Namandje enlists top lawyers

Sisa Namandje is preparing for perhaps his biggest legal battle yet, but this time not as a defence lawyer.

14 April 2020 | Justice



South African senior counsel Francois van Zyl, who secured a plea bargain for Mark Thatcher, son of the late British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, when he was charged with organising a coup in Equatorial Guinea, is among top legal minds lawyer Sisa Namandje has hired to help fight off accusations that he had helped exacerbate the Fishrot corruption.

Top lawyer Namandje is being investigated on whether his law firm, one of the biggest in the country, was used as a transmission belt for illicit payments linked for the Fishrot scandal.

Namandje is fighting on two fronts to clear his name – one against the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) which has already placed two former ministers behind bars, and another with the Law Society of Namibia (LSN).

In March, Namandje met with ACC officials who indicated the kind of information the commission wants from him.

Big guns

Namibian Sun understands that for his answers to the ACC, Namandje hired Van Zyl, who also represented British businessman Shrien Dewani‚ who walked free from the High Court in Cape Town after being cleared of murdering his new bride Anni in Gugulethu.

Van Zyl will be assisted by fellow senior Cape Town senior counsel Craig Webster.

For his battle against the Law Society of Namibia, which is set to be heard in court on 7 May, Namandje has hired senior counsel Raymond Heathcote to lead his A-list legal team. Namandje is denying allegations that his firm was used as a conduit for illicit Fishrot payments involving about N$15 million. When contacted for comment, Namandje maintained that his law firm did “absolutely” nothing wrong but said he would reveal details of his conduct to the ACC or the court.

The Law Society of Namibia has had to appeal to the High Court to force Namandje to open up his books for investigation because he is reportedly not forthcoming.

Namandje denies this accusation, saying he is fully cooperating with authorities, including the ACC, which he met last month and is busy preparing answers for.

The investigation into the trust account of Namandje's law firm follows a string of allegations that the account was used to launder money of the so-called Fishrot Six.

'Absolutely nothing wrong'

Namandje told Namibian Sun that he did not want to fight his battle in the media but his response would be filed before the deadline of 30 April.

“We will vigorously oppose this matter. We have done absolutely nothing wrong. I think it is best you wait until 7 May and come and listen for yourself. There are various inaccuracies and mistakes in these documents,” Namandje said.

Court documents show that Namandje gave notice that he would oppose the application and had appointed Kadhila-Amoomo Legal Practitioners as his legal representatives.

Law Society director Margareta Steinman said in her affidavit that the bank statements as well as Sisa Namandje & Co business accounts were necessary for a proper assessment and analysis of the transactions and information pertaining to the transactions.

In her affidavit Steinman makes reference to the Al Jazeera 'Anatomy of a Bribe' documentary in which Namandje told an undercover reporter: “I am not involved in who is to be paid and what the money is for. I also do not want to be involved in that discussion. But it is fine, once money comes in, I have given Sacky Kadhila Amoomo the file with the money and Sacky obviously having discussed with you guys he will know how to channel it. He (Sacky) has a good relationship with the minister.”

According to Steinman, judging from the documentary, Namandje and Kadhila expressed a clear intention of engaging in and facilitating money laundering using his firm's trust account, knowing it would be illegal.

Namandje yesterday denied this, saying he was clear in the documentary warning the supposed investors to do things the legal way.

“It would be helpful is the entire recording is produced in court. That's why you never saw me at any dinners that some other people had with these undercover reporters.

“When I got suspicious about these supposed investors – because they were hinting a lot at illegal payments – I even alerted [police chief Sebastian] Ndeitunga, but they [undercover reporters] never returned to Namibia again.”

WikiLeaks documents allege that state-owned fishing entity Fishcor paid N$17.5 million into Namandje's trust account in 2015 and 2017.

Steinman stressed that the purpose of the Law Society's inspection was to determine whether the firm had indeed contravened the requirements relating to trust accounts and whether it had engaged in money laundering or facilitated money laundering by its clients.

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