RICARDO Gustavo, one of the men implicated in the corruption saga known as the fishrot, today said that he would be able to pay N$100 000 bail with the help of his family and friends as he currently has no money to his name.
This came out this morning at the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court during Gustavo’s bail application, which was brought before Magistrate Johannes Shuuveni by the fifth accused in the fishrot scandal.
The 42-year-old former senior employee at Investec Asset Management Namibia, testified that he has five children who are all dependent on him.
The youngest is 3-years-old and the oldest is a 23-years-old daughter that he told the court is currently a student in South Africa.
It was further his testimony that he is raising another child who is not biologically his.
His ex wife, he said, is also dependent on him financially, as well as his elderly parents.
Gustavo, who is represented by Trevor Brockerhoff, made it known in court today that he intends to plead not guilty to the fraud, corruption and money laundering charges levelled against him when the matter goes to trial.
State Prosecutor Cliff Lutibezi is objecting to the granting of bail on the grounds of the seriousness of the offence, public interest, the administration of justice, as well as flight risk.
The state also fears Gustavo might interfere with investigations if he is granted bail.
“I am a man of integrity and I have lived an honest life. It is important to me that I clear my name. I therefore have no intention of absconding and it is a thought that has never crossed my mind. My children, who are all relatively young, are in Namibia and it would be irresponsible of me to run. Those who know me know I am an honest man. These allegations have literally crippled me. I have no access to funds and I cannot even afford to buy a bus ticket. For me, it is important that I’m out, be able to find something to do and support my children, as well as my extended family,” Gustavo told Magistrate Shuuveni.
On the charge of conspiracy, Gustavo maintained that he would equally plead not guilty.
Gustavo was one of the first people to be arrested alongside former fisheries minister Benard Esau.
The two were released when Esau challenged the legalities of the warrant of their arrests in the High Court, but they were subsequently re-arrested three days later.
“I was on my way to Swakopmund when I got a call from my lawyer who instructed me that I needed to go to the Windhoek police station immediately. I presented myself to the police. Mind you, I was halfway to Swakopmund and I turned around,” he said, adding that the opportunity to flea was there but he chose not to run.
Gustavo further maintained that he has family in Angola, but that he has no passport as it was confiscated by the police.
Gustavo served as a sole Director of Namgomar Pesca Namibia, a company allegedly strategically set up in the fishrot saga.
Media reports have it that Angola’s former minister of fisheries, Victoria de Barris Neto, was the majority shareholder of the company.
Prosecutor Lutibezi put it to Gustavo this afternoon that N$39 million was received to Namgomar from Samerji subsidiaries, of which N$14 million was given to Gustavo.
Gustavo refused to comment, saying that he can only comment when the matter goes to trial and he has perused the full disclosure and docket.
Over N$3 million of that money allegedly went to the construction of the accused’s house at a luxury housing estate a few kilometres outside Windhoek.
Gustavo also refused to comment on allegations that another company, Namgomar Pesca in South Africa, was also meant to benefit from the dubious fishing quota deals.
The company, according to the state, never actually existed but documents presented in court today indicate Gustavo’s signature on its paper work.
Gustavo is also charged alongside former justice minister, Sakeus Shanghala, former Investec Asset Management Namibia Managing Director, James Hatuikulipi and Tamson ‘Fitty’ Hatuikulipi and Pius ‘Taxa’ Mwatelula, who are both cousins to James.
The former Fishcor Chief Executive Officer, Mike ‘Tate Mike’ Nghipunya, was also arrested and subsequently added to the charge sheet.
Three other people, a police reservist Sakaria Kuutondokwa, one Jason Iyambo and Shanghala’s employee, Nigel van Wyk, were also charged in connection with attempting to bribe a police officer and attempting to defeat the course of justice by removing evidence from Shanghala’s residence, respectively.
Additional charges were levelled against James and Mwatelula for allegedly smuggling phones into their jail cells.
The bail application is set for continuation on Tuesday, 26 May.