Icelandic, Russian captains appear for illegal fishing

22 November 2019 | Fishing

JEMIMA BEUKES



Icelandic and Russian fishing boat captains have appeared in the Walvis Bay Magistrate’s Court for illegal fishing in Namibian waters.

Police spokesperson Chief Inspector Kauna Shikwambi said the suspects are both out on bail of N$100 000 and must appear in court again on 30 January.

Shikwambi said Icelandic national Brynjolfsson Arngrimur Kristinn and Russian national Fetisov Iurii were caught fishing in a restricted area on 30 October. They appeared in court on Wednesday.

The arrests come in the wake of an international bribery involving Namibian politicians and officials that allegedly accepted N$150 million in bribes from Iceland biggest seafood company Samherji.

Some sources estimate that the bribes involved amounted to as much as N$2.5 billion.

There is no suggestion that Arngrimur is linked to Samherji.

International pressure

Meanwhile, Iceland fisheries minister Kristján Þór Júlíusson has been summoned before a parliamentary committee over the Samherji bribery scandal.

The company’s former executive-turned-whistleblower Jóhannes Stefánsson has also given a statement to prosecutors.

Júlíusson was the chairman of the board of Samherji between 1996 and 1998 and used to go to sea for the company during summer breaks after he had taken a seat as a member of parliament.

This was confirmed by Hólmfríður Gísladóttir a journalist at Mannlíf, a weekly newspaper in Iceland, who told Namibian Sun the people of Iceland are waiting to see what happens next.

Some have called for Júlíusson’s resignation. “There is much scepticism regarding the investigation Samherji has instigated into its own conduct, but now the financial supervisory authority has called for information from the banks regarding their dealings with Samherji,” Gísladóttir said.

Those alleged to have taken bribes from Samherji are former fisheries minister Esau; Tamson 'Fitty' Hatuikulipi, who worked as a consultant for Samherji and is Esau's son-in-law; James Hatuikulipi, the chairman of state-owned Fishcor; and former justice minister Shanghala. The fifth individual implicated is Mike Nghipunya, the CEO of Fishcor.

Stefánsson has also implicated the ruling party Swapo and the Namibia Fish Consumption Promotion Trust (NFCPT) in receiving “facilitation fees”.

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