Samherji to be criminally charged

Prosecutor-General Martha Imalwa submits that Samherji influenced amendments to the country’s Marine Resource Act, using Esau and Shanghala.

03 December 2020 | Local News



The Office of the Prosecutor-General (PG) has its sights set on Icelandic fishing company Samherji, and will be charging it for its role in the Fishrot corruption scandal.

PG Martha Imalwa confirmed the development to Namibian Sun following moves to have the assets of those implicated in the scandal attached. Former ministers Sacky Shanghala and Bernhardt Esau have been charged and are behind bars awaiting trial, alongside former Investec CEO James Hatuikulipi, former Investec business manager Ricardo Gustavo, former Fishcor CEO Mike Nghipunya, Esau’s son-in-law Tamson Hatuikulipi and Hanganeni employee Pius Mwatelulo.

Samherji benefitted to the tune of N$547 million, court papers filed at the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court showed.

The company had been fingered as having orchestrated the scandal to benefit from Namibia’s horse mackerel resources by influencing the amendment of the Marine Resource Act. The change of the Act was driven by then Attorney-General Shanghala, and Esau.

Dubious schemes

“Due to the legislative restrictions applicable to the allocation of fishing quotas, the only way that Samherji could have obtained quotas was by circumventing the normal rules and procedures applicable in terms of the Marine Resources Act,” the Office of the PG said in an affidavit.

“A scheme was devised whereby Esau would enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with his Angolan counterpart, purportedly to be a fisheries agreement as provided for in terms of Section 35 of the Marine Resources Act,” the Office of the PG explained.

The MoU was, in reality, designed to be the tool through which the defendants would gain access to fishing quotas in the furtherance of their unlawful scheme, it said.

“Before Esau entered into the MoU, Gustavo, a colleague of James Hatuikulipi at Investec, purchased a shelf company known as Paw Print Investments and applied for the name change of this company to Namgomar Pesca,” the Office of the PG said.

“The shareholders of this company are Namgomar Pesca Limitada, an Angolan company. Under this purported fisheries agreement, Esau then allocated fish quotas to Namgomar Namibia. Namgomar Namibia, in turn, as agreed between Samherji and the Namibian role players, permitted Samherji to exploit its fishing quotas by entering into a purported catching agreement,” it added in the affidavit.

Deny, deny, deny

Samherji had in the beginning of the year refuted allegations that it had benefitted corruptly from the scandal.

The Icelandic fishing company firmly denied that quotas were leased from these parties at a price lower than market value.

“Allegations to that effect are unfounded. In fact, the price paid under the agreements with Fishcor and Namgomar was always equal to or higher than the price paid by Samherji-affiliated companies to other quota holders in Namibia,” the company said.

The company has also claimed having made losses of up to N$479 million from its operations and that it had been a responsible investor within Namibia. It has since exited Namibia after news of the scandal broke.

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