'Fishcor directors failed or were accomplices'

20 February 2020 | Crime

The Landless People's Movement (LPM) has demanded the arrest of the entire Fishcor board of directors, including regional governors Sirkka Ausiku and Usko Nghaamwa, saying they either failed in their duty or were accomplices in the Fishrot scandal.

The movement also questioned why the board is still being kept in charge and has not been investigated or suspended yet.

LPM leader Bernadus Swartbooi said the board should be dismissed since they fully understood their duties as board directors and cannot claim ignorance.

These demands come after four of the directors told Namibian Sun this week that they knew nothing about the corrupt activities involving Fishcor fishing quotas.

“The board members have a fiduciary duty toward the company and had to at all times know the commercial transactions. To this end, they had a duty to effectively monitor and evaluate the CEO and give proper direction and instructions to the CEO. It appears that they were lax in their duties or were in the alternative accomplices to the entire Fishrot debacle,” said Swartbooi.

Meanwhile, former presidential independent candidate Panduleni Itula has called for the resignation of the entire Swapo leadership elected in 2017, amid allegations that they benefitted from funds linked to Fishrot deals.

The funds are said to have been secured through alleged bribes, given to the party as donations in return for fishing rights to an Icelandic fishing giant.

This comes at a time when two Cabinet ministers and a string of businessmen are incarcerated on charges of money laundering and bribery amounting to more than N$150 million.

Itula also questioned the use of lawyers' accounts to launder money, saying the lawyers knew crimes were being committed.

“There is ground for Swapo to be held personally responsible criminally as a corporate entity,” said Itula.

So far, the accused in the Fishrot matter are James Hatuikulipi, his cousin Tamson Hatuikulipi, former justice minister Sacky Shanghala, former fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau, suspended Fishcor CEO Mike Nghipunya, suspended Investec employee Ricardo Gustavo and Hanganeni employee Pius Mwatelulo. Also arrested were three hangers-on of the main accused who face separate charges.

At Nghipunya's first court appearance on Tuesday, five of the original six accused were also present to hear that new charges had been added to their files in connection with money allegedly laundered through entities called Salex and DHC Inc.

It was alleged that N$75 million of Fishcor's money was laundered using these firms.

Shanghala faces an additional charge of obstructing the course of justice.

He, Esau, James and Nghipunya are further accused of using State money for self-gratification. Mwatelulo and Tamson are accused of conspiring in these alleged crimes.

James now also faces a further charge of attempting to bribe an Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) investigator.

He allegedly offered N$250 000 for bank cards and an assets allocation sheet that forms part of Fishrot evidence.

The matter was postponed to 23 April. Bail was opposed due to the seriousness of the crimes. It was also indicated that the accused may abscond, and that they may interfere with investigations. The State also argued it was not in public interest to release them.

They will all remain in custody at the Windhoek Correctional Facility.

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