RICARDO Gustavo, one of the fishrot-accused, today appeared before the High Court to appeal against a ruling which saw his formal bail application being denied on 3 July.
Gustavo, a former manager at Investec Asset Management Namibia, spent close to 8 months in jail since his arrest late last year.
In his re-appeal to gain freedom, Gustavo today offered an amount of N$100 000 for his release, adding that he would surrender his passport and would report daily to the ACC if released.
Gustavo, 44, along with former fisheries minister, Bernhard Esau, former minister of justice, Sacky Shanghala, former Investec Namibia managing director, James Hatuikulipi, Tamson Hatuikulipi, who is Esau’s son-in-law, as well Pius Mwatelulo and former Fishcor CEO, Mike Nghipunya, have been charged with bribery, fraud, money laundering and conspiring to commit corruption.
The corruption charges are in connection with allegations that involve them in a scheme to benefit financially from the allocation of Namibian fishing quotas to Fishcor and Namgomar Pesca Namibia, a company which Gustavo is the sole director.
During the first bail hearing, the state objected to bail being granted to Gustavo due to the seriousness of the offences, public interest, risk of interfering and absconding.
In addition, it argued that the release of Gustavo would not be in the interest of the administration of justice.
Gustavo’s defence, Advocate Louis Botes, is appealing against the denial of bail as he says there has been no shred of evidence produced by the state to show that the applicant is a dangerous offender and that he is a danger to the public.
Botes further argued that Gustavo is a first time accused and has no history of violence or an alleged propensity to commit serious crimes, which renders him to be a potential threat to the victims or other innocent members of society.
He further argued that throughout his testimony, Gustavo advised the court that he was an employee of a subsidiary of an Angolan entity which received a fishing quota as a result of a legitimate bilateral agreement between Namibia and Angola.
“The said bilateral agreement was not produced by the state to illustrate how the alleged fraud was committed, the appellant at all times advised the court that he had purely acted on the instructions of his employers and had executed their instructions throughout,“ Botes argued.
With regard to interference with ongoing investigations, Botes stated that the court found that the fear raised by state to object to the granting of bail Gustavo does not hold any merit.
In his response, state prosecutor, Cliff Lutibezi, said that the release of Gustavo would not be in the administration of justice as an estimated N$120 million is not yet accounted for and investigations are still pending finalisation.
Lutibezi further added that in relation to the fraudulent activities surrounding the memorandum of understanding entered into between Namibia and Angola, the memorandum of understanding signed by the applicant is available along with representations made to cabinet justifying the entering into memorandum of understanding containing clauses meant to be mutually beneficial to the Namibian and Angolan people.
“From evidence before court, Namgomar Pesca Namibia was the true beneficiary under this agreement and there is evidence funds were paid from Namgomar to the co-accused (who were acting with a common purpose) or to entities in which they had interests. There is prima facie evidence of misrepresentations made to the government of Namibia regarding the memorandum of understating benefiting Namibians in general whereas it was meant to benefit the accused persons,” Lutibezi argued.
He concluded that the magistrate’s decision to deny bail was not wrongly exercised and that the appellant failed to discharge the onus on a balance of probabilities to show why he should be granted bail.
The High Court has postponement his case to 28 July.