We won’t drop Fishrot ball - ACC

The multinational investigation into the Fishrot bribery scandal will remain a priority for the Anti-Corruption Agency in spite of its reduced budget.

22 June 2020 | Crime

OGONE TLHAGE

WINDHOEK

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) says despite receiving only N$61 million in the national budget for 2020/21, with only N$2 million available for forensic investigations, it will give priority to the Fishrot investigation which spans several countries and suspects who are yet to be brought to book.

It was recently revealed that investigations are being conducted in several African countries, Europe and the United Arab Emirates. Investigations are also ongoing in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe as well as Spain, Iceland, Cyprus, Dubai, Sweden and Norway.

More arrests are expected in Angola and Iceland, State advocate Ed Marondedze said in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court earlier this month, when the Fishrot accused appeared to determine the progress of the investigations.

“Whatever amount we receive, we shall give priority to the Fishrot case. We know it is a challenge; however, as an institution, we have to do as much as we can with the little resources at our disposal,” ACC spokesperson Josefina Nghituwamata told Namibian Sun.

The ACC has been allocated only N$61 million for this financial year, compared to N$60.7 million in 2019/20, despite the multiple heavyweight investigations on its books, including the multibillion-dollar Fishrot case.

ACC director-general Paulus Noa recently said they would have to put on hold 17 high-profile cases because, once running expenses were taken into account, it would be left with N$2 million for investigations.

Cooperation

Nghituwamata said the ACC had been getting the necessary support from anti-graft bodies in Norway and Iceland as a consequence of the involvement of Icelandic fishing company Samherji, which is alleged to have paid bribes for fishing quotas.

“There is cordial cooperation,” the ACC spokesperson said.

Similar cooperation was also being given by authorities in South Africa, she said.

‘De Klerk not a risk’

The ACC is also confident that local lawyer Marén de Klerk, whose law firm DHC Incorporated was used to transfer N$75.6 million raised from the sale of the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia’s (Fishcor’s) fishing quota, will not interfere with investigations.

De Klerk has left Namibia and his firm, of which he was the managing partner, is being disbanded.

De Klerk travelled to South Africa after he had been questioned by the ACC and he has yet to return to Namibia.

Nghituwamata said there was no risk that De Klerk would interfere with investigations into the scandal.

“We do not see him interfering because we already have the information and evidence so far needed, and the investigation is at an advanced stage, hence the chance of him interfering is not there,” she said.

Noa said in February that the anti-graft agency was looking for De Klerk in connection with his alleged involvement in the Fishrot scandal.

The scandal has led to the arrests of former fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau, former justice minister Sacky Shanghala, former Investec CEO James Hatuikulipi, suspended Fishcor CEO Mike Nghipunya, former Investec business manager Ricardo Gustavo, Tamson Hatuikulipi and Pius Mwatelulo, among others.

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