I won't muzzle Fishrot probe - !Gawaxab

The new reserve bank chief says, contrary to popular belief that he was abruptly ushered into the cushy job to cover up the Fishrot scandal, he is actually assisting law-enforcement agencies for a successful investigation.

18 September 2020 | Banking



Bank of Namibia governor Johannes !Gawaxab has scoffed at claims that his appointment as the head of the central bank was politically motivated and meant to curtail investigations into the Fishrot scandal.

“I did not come to the bank to protect certain people. People think I have been sent to the Bank of Namibia to kill Fishrot; whatever is with [the] law enforcement agencies cannot be protected,” he said.

“Many people underestimate what I am capable of doing,” he said about his plans to improve the bank.

!Gawaxab was appointed as governor of the central bank in June 2020 following the appointment of former governor Iipumbu Shiimi as minister of finance. !Gawaxab is the third Namibian to head the central bank.

Commenting on his appointment, he said there was nothing sinister behind the move by the president.

Financial intelligence

Financial Intelligence Centre director Leonie Dunn indicated in the centre's annual report that N$17 billion had been flagged as potential proceeds of crime, N$10 billion of which was connected to the Fishrot bribery scandal.

Those implicated in the Fishrot scandal include former fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau, former justice minister Sacky Shanghala, former Fishcor board chair James Hatuikulipi, Investec employee Ricardo Gustavo, businessman Tamson Hatuikulipi and Pius Mwatelulo.

They face a string of charges including money-laundering, tax evasion and fraud.

The FIC also highlighted the evolution of organised criminal syndicates from old-fashioned models to highly sophisticated criminal enterprises using technology and crime networks.

The Windhoek Magistrate's Court recently granted the State a final postponement in two court cases related to the Fishrot scandal.

!Gawaxab said at the launch of the FIC report that the centre had passed on information relating to the matter to law-enforcement agencies.

“They [FIC] have passed on that information to the law-enforcement agencies and it is for them to go and analyse and see whether there is a case to answer,” !Gawaxab remarked at the time.

BoN's hands tied on SME Bank

Commenting on the SME Bank scandal, !Gawaxab said the Bank of Namibia and the FIC had done all they could and had handed all relevant information over to law enforcement agencies.

“It is in the hands of the courts and the liquidators. There is very little we can do; [the] other agents must do what they need to do,” he said.

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