Fishrot 7 could be released

A court yesterday hinted it would have no further just grounds to keep the accused in custody if state investigators further delay completion of their investigations.

15 September 2020 | Justice



A magistrate yesterday thinly suggested the court might have no further reason to keep the Fishrot accused in custody if investigators do not wrap up their probe within three months, ending on December 14.

Windhoek Magistrate Vanessa Stanley granted the State a final postponement in the Fishcor and Nangomar Pesca court cases.

Magistrate Stanley made the ruling yesterday after the scheduled appearance of the seven men accused of corruption, money laundering and bribery charges in the so-called Fishrot debacle.

In the Fishcor matter, the accused are suspended Fishcor CEO Mike Nghipunya, former justice minister Sacky Shanghala, former fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau, former Investec CEO James Hatuikulipi, businessman Tamson Hatuikulipi and Pius Mwatelulo.

They stand accused of having benefited from a bribery syndicate involving millions of dollars in exchange for lucrative fishing quotas to Icelandic company Samherji, using Namibia’s national state-owned fishing company Fishcor.

Last week the Bank of Namibia said it had traced movement of up to N$10 billion linked to the Fishrot scandal.

In the Nangomar case, former Investec business manager Ricardo Gustavo is charged along with Shanghala, Esau, the Hatuikulipi cousins and Mwatelulo.

In the Fishcor case, N$75.6 million is said to have been paid to companies belonging to Esau, while N$103 million is said to have been paid over in the Nangomar case.

Shanghala, Esau, the Hatuikulipi cousins (James and Tamson), Mwatelulo and Gustavo have been in jail since their arrest in November 2019.

Nghipunya was arrested in February this year.

Lengthy investigations justified

Magistrate Stanley yesterday remarked that lengthy investigations by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) had been justified so far given the complexity of the cases.

She also noted that the Covid-19 lockdown in the country and the world had further complicated the investigations.

The magistrate further noted that the cases required voluminous investigations.

Gustavo’s lawyer, Trevor Brockerhoff, last week argued that investigations into the so-called Fishrot bribery scandal could take years to be completed.

Some of the other defence lawyers involved in the two cases suggested in their arguments on Wednesday that the magistrate should refuse a postponement, or release their clients from custody or grant them bail.

All seven men remain in custody.

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