Icelanders not untouchable – Imalwa

04 August 2021 | Justice

JEMIMA BEUKES



WINDHOEK

Martha Imalwa, Namibia’s Prosecutor-General (PG), said three Icelandic directors - who ran six fishing companies in Namibia - are under a false impression that they are untouchable.

In a 70-page affidavit, Imalwa emphasised that these entities, managed by Icelandic Samherji employees Ingvar Júlíusson, Egill Helgi Árnason and Aðalsteinn Helgason, are based in Namibia and can be confiscated under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA).

Court documents show that on 29 April, warrants of arrest were issued for Juliusson, Helgason and Arnason and a Mutual Legal Request (MLR) was sent to Iceland, to which that country responded with an encrypted USB hard drive containing emails extracted from the Samherji server network.

Meanwhile, Imalwa dismissed the Icelanders’ claim that they would never be accused persons before the Namibian court due to Iceland’s alleged refusal to extradite its citizens.

They had further said that the PG failed to prove that they are to be charged with criminal offence or that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a confiscation order will be made.

According to Imalwa, this assertion is misleading, and their belief that they can never be extradited is flawed and premature.

“At least one director of the six companies is being charged in his personal capacity. Their warrants of arrest have been issued, as is evident from copies of warrants of arrest. Namibia has not made a formal request to Iceland for the extradition of these companies’ directors… as the defendants were not liable for extradition before this period.

“Iceland will only have the authority to refuse extradition if the person or persons requested to be extradited is or are in Iceland,” she said.

She also stressed that the Namibian court should be satisfied that a prosecution is seriously intended. The fact that these directors are outside Namibia does not prevent her from using the remedies provided for under the POCA, she added.

Confirmed

Imalwa also pointed out that she has the power to seize money held under the joint account of the M/V Heinaste under a seizure order which is binding all over the world.

She further dismissed the Icelanders’ submission that there is no evidence to show that Samherji improperly benefitted from payment of Namgomar usage fees to foreign nominees.

“It has been set out in my founding affidavit that Samherji benefitted from this corruption scheme in that it has accessed the illegally awarded quotas with a total market value of N$547 600 000, which they would not have had access to were it not for corrupt activities in Namibia. I confirm this,” she said.

Imalwa also dismissed Samherji’s claim that its Namibian businesses are totally separate from Iceland and that Samherji is not supposed to respond to allegations regarding its companies in foreign jurisdictions.

Whistle-blower issues

The PG said it is entirely inappropriate to expect the court to consider the dispute of facts and credibility of witnesses such as Fishrot whistle-blower Johanneson Stefanson, who is regarded as a self-confessed criminal with a personal vendetta against Samherji.

She also said Stefanson was appointed as the director of five of the Samherji companies to further their interests, which were criminally liable, even if he did act alone - which he did not.

According to her, the question at this point is not whether the evidence is accepted, but rather whether it appears, on face value of all evidence - including that of Stefanson - that there are reasonable grounds to believe that confiscation orders will be made against the six companies.

Imalwa added that she believes her evidence satisfies this test.

“It is moreover, in any event, most unlikely that Mr Stefanson would have engaged in the large-scale fraud and corruption for the benefit of the defendants entirely on his own and without knowledge and cooperation of this colleagues. Furthermore, from the facts set out in my founding affidavit, it is evident that the other directors of the six companies were well aware of the corrupt scheme in relation to the Namgomar allocation of quotas,” she said.

The PG cited email correspondence dating back to 8 March 2014 between Stefanson and James Hatuikulipi, saying it is very clear that all defendants needed the cooperation of ministers of both Namibia and Angola to make their scheme successful.

“In addition to these emails, Juliusson further confirms in his affidavit that he was aware that not all of the usage fee - as per the catching agreement between Esja Holding and Namgomar - was to be paid to Namgomar and he subsequently made payments from foreign accounts in Tundavala.

“It was further discovered from translated emails retrieved from Samherji’s server in Iceland that the directors of the six companies were well aware of the scheme,” she said.

Taken care of

She said emails showed that on 12 December 2011, Stefanson had written an update to Helgason on the progress he had made in Namibia.

“It was emphasised, presumably referring to Samherji, that they would be taken care of and would meet Tamson Hatuikulipi again with a possible draft offer. On 16 December 2011, Helgason sent an email to both Stefanson and Juliusson with the subject line ‘Moon’ where he stated: ‘…Greetings, at some point it may make a difference to bribe one of the leaders of these men’.”

According to her, figures were discussed as bribes concealed under a memorandum of understanding.

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