Fishrot:Nghipunya'scontract underscrutiny

The ministry of public enterprises is weighing its options regarding the contract of suspended Fishcor CEO Mike Nghipunya.

20 March 2020 | Fishing

OGONE TLHAGE

Windhoek



The ministry of public enterprises has asked for a legal opinion, as it weighs its options regarding the contract of suspended Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) CEO Mike Nghipunya.

Nghipunya, who was arrested in February, faces charges of corruptly using his office for self-gratification by obtaining allegedly N$75.6 million on the pretext that it was for government objectives and fraud and money laundering.

The funds are alleged to have been channelled through the trust account of lawyer Maren de Klerk's law firm DHC Incorporated, who has since disappeared and is said to be in South Africa.

Nghipunya, as well as former justice minister Sakeus Shanghala, former fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau and former Investec Namibia MD James Hatuikulipi, among others, will face trial together and are currently being held at the Windhoek Correctional Facility.

This is one of four separate cases linked to the so-called Fishrot saga that involves bribes allegedly being paid in exchange for access to fishing quotas.

“We are waiting for a legal opinion on the matter. The issue is that a person can only be fired once found guilty and he is still on trial,” public enterprises minister Leon Jooste said.

Fishcor board chairperson Bennet Kangumu was called multiple times for comment, but remained unavailable.

During the filming of an Al Jazeera documentary titled 'Anatomy of a Bribe' Nghipunya was secretly recorded promising journalists posing as investors access to fishing quotas through Fishcor.

Esau had stripped several private companies of fishing quotas and handed them to Fishcor, which passed them on to Icelandic company Samherji. Some of the companies that lost their quotas ended up retrenching employees.

Nghipunya has been with Fishcor since May 2014, according to his LinkedIn profile.



Hands in the cookie jar

Nghipunya promised fishing quotas to a supposed investor identified as Johnny in the Al Jazeera documentary that aired early last December.

“For as long as I am Fishcor CEO, for the next five years, you will get quotas from me,” Nghipunya said in the footage.

When news of the Fishrot scandal broke last November, Nghipunya told Namibian Sun he had never received a bribe.

“I do not even know why they listed my name because I never received a bribe,” he said at the time.

Nghipunya and his co-accused will appear again in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court on 23 April.

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