Noa slams 'armchair critics'

05 December 2019 | Crime

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has lashed out at “armchair critics”, commentators and potential witnesses for failing to come forward with relevant information on the Fishrot scandal to ensure a successful prosecution.

In a media statement issued yesterday, ACC director-general Paulus Noa said the innuendos and aspersions cast by some analysts and critics that the ACC has been ignoring the scandal were devoid of any truth.

Noa also said they only obtained the sworn affidavit of a foreign whistleblower on 5 June this year.

He added that this was done only after all the relevant allegations were given to the ACC and a convenient arrangement was made for the whistleblower to give a statement under oath. He did not name the whistleblower.

Namibian Sun previously reported that Icelandic fishing executive Jóhannes Stefánsson said he had facilitated N$150 million in bribes for Namibian politicians and officials in exchange for gaining access to a quota “goldmine”.

He implicated former cabinet ministers Sacky Shanghala and Bernhardt Esau.

Others fingered in the scandal are Tamson 'Fitty' Hatuikulipi, who worked as consultant for Samherji and is Esau's son-in-law; James Hatuikulipi, the former chairman of state-owned Fishcor; and Mike Nghipunya, the suspended CEO of Fishcor.

Noa said in June the ACC started serving summonses on commercial banks and other institutions to furnish it with lists of bank accounts and bank statements of persons and entities implicated in the whistleblower's affidavit.

According to Noa, it is interesting, if not shameful, that to date not a single person in Namibia has come forward to provide the ACC with information relating to the matter.

“The ACC is not convinced that there are no persons in Namibia who knew about these corrupt practices in the fishery sector. Rather than being patriotic and contribute to the fight against corruption by assisting ACC to succeed in the investigations of this serious case, some fellow citizens reduced themselves to being armchair critics,” he said.

Noa added that the ACC had to rely on information obtained from outside the country, as well as bank statements from commercial banks. These efforts take time and are costly, he said.

The investigation was further delayed by the drawn-out process of forensic auditing of bank transactions and other documents obtained from various offices and institutions.

“Criminal investigations entail gathering and collating relevant information and evidence sufficient to present and prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt before a criminal court of law.

“Nothing short of this principle will suffice. While criticism is welcome, let armchair critics and analysts do a noble duty by coming forward and furnishing the ACC with relevant information and evidence at their disposal, in order to make the investigation a greater success. A successful prosecution of these allegations is of prime national interest,” said Noa.

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JEMIMA BEUKES

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