Hatuikulipi’s N$65m ‘bribe’ kitty

22 February 2021 | Crime

OGONE TLHAGE

Fishrot whistleblower Johannes Stefansson claims that the N$65 million paid to former Fishcor board chairperson James Hatuikulipi between 2014 and 2019 were bribes made to him disguised as facilitation fees.

Hatuikulipi’s Dubai-registered company, Tundavala Invest Limited, is alleged to have received over N$65 million between 2014 and 2019, according to a list of transactions seen by Namibian Sun that are currently in the public domain.

The payments were made from Samherji’s subsidiary in Cyprus, Esja Seafoods.

Several invoices seen by this publication indicate that the payments were described as ‘consulting fees’.

He would charge as much as N$8 million per invoice in consulting fees.

“These are the only ones [payments] I had with me and then there are more as the payments to Tundavala from companies of Samherji in Cyprus are around US$5 million but there should be more,” Stefansson said.

Stefansson said in one of his statements to the Namibian authorities that in August 2014 Samherji agreed to pay around 75% of the “usage fee” of the Namgomar fishing quota to Tundavala Invest Ltd in Dubai.

Hatuikulipi was receiving these payments as recently as January 2019, just 10 months before his arrest.

Documents submitted to the Anti-Corruption Commission tell story of how Icelandic seafood company Esja Seafoods made opaque transfers to Hatuikulipi’s tax-haven-based Tundavala.

Bribes

Commenting on the payments made during an interview with Namibian Sun, Stefansson was not afraid to state that the money paid to the two entities was “bribe money”.

Stefansson also said Tamson had been paid for his role in getting Samherji quotas while James had tried to conceal payments made to him.

“Fitty [Tamson] was paid regularly as he was working to get quotas for Samherji. Tundavala payments were payments from 2014 and onward for the Nangomar quotas. All these are bribes and illegal payments (sic),” Stefansson said.

“It was treated as consulting fee payments in the case of Tundavala and I think for Fitty,” he added.

According to Stefansson, the Hatuikulipis preferred not to have any documentation of the monies paid in an effort to conceal the origin of the funds.

During a failed bail attempt in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court last year, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) also revealed that Esja Fishing, a subsidiary of the Samherji group of companies in Iceland, had paid N$29 million to Tamson’s clearing agency. It is not clear whether this was also consulting fees.

Namibian Sun last month reported how three Icelandic-controlled companies paid N$14 million for consultancy services to Erongo Clearing and Forwarding, an agency owned by Tamson. Stefansson at the time also said it was bribe money.

Cyprus

Stefansson also claimed that monies were paid to accounts of James from a Samherji account in Cyprus to the tune N$75 million.

James is believed to be the sole shareholder in Tundavala, which he registered in 2014 in the Emirate of Dubai.

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