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ACC will pursue criminal charges in fishing scandal

ACC will pursue criminal charges in fishing scandal

Niël Terblanché

AS heads keep on rolling in both Namibia and Iceland, the former managing director of Samherji’s operations in Namibia Jóhannes Stefánsson has made a statement under oath for the Anti-Corruption Commission in Namibia and set wheels in motion by which the main players in the corruption scandal will be prosecuted.

 

According to the Acc statements under oath have been obtained from the whistle blower and other potential witnesses and in the course of the investigation, the commission has engaged counterparts and relevant stakeholders inside and outside the country with an objective to assist with investigation of various aspects that might lead to the eventual prosecution of the suspects.

 

Over the course of 48 hours both Bernhard Esau and Sacky Shanghala has resigned as Cabinet Ministers with immediate effect while the CEO of Samherji in Iceland Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson has been asked by his board of directors to step aside while the multinational company investigates its role in the international scandal. 

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

One of the other people implicated in the scandal, James Hatuikulipi, has als resigned from his position as Managing Director of Investec Asset Management in Namibia with immediate effect while Ricardo Gustavo was suspended by the company pending the outcome of an ongoing independent investigation.

 

The Minister of Public Enterprises, Leon Joosts has in the meantime formally requested the acting Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources to axe Hatuikulipi as the chairperson of the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia’s board. Jooste also requested the acting fisheries minister to order that the Chief Executive Officer of Fishcor, Mike Nghipunya, be fired or suspended.

 

According to the ACC statement, its investigators has been relentlessly pursuing the allegations with regards to large scale corruption in the Namibian fishing industry since 2014.

 

During 2014 further complaints were also received alleging that the former Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources has been allocating fishing quotas to non-right holders. The information gathered at that time, could not justify submission of the docket to the Prosecutor-General for a decision to prosecute.

 

The latest allegations which implicate Bernard Esau, Sacky Shanghala, James Hatuikulipi, Fitly Tamson Hatuikulipi, Ricardo Gustavo, several fishing entities, some foreign nationals and their companies were only received by ACC during November 2018. These allegations are being investigated as part of the docket already opened in 2014.

 

Since then, ACC has been relentlessly pursuing the allegations with an objective to get and gather substantive evidence.

 

“Statements under oath have been obtained from the whistleblower and other potential witnesses. In the course of the investigation, ACC has engaged counterparts and relevant stakeholders inside and outside the country with an objective to assist with investigation of various aspects as revealed by our sources. The reason for requesting international cooperation from our counterparts is to consolidate the investigation.

 

The cooperation will as well ensure speedy finalization of the investigation. This is a complex cross-border investigation and all documents and alleged financial transactions need to be verified before the docket is submitted to PG for a decision.”

 

The ACC said in its statement that the docket is currently receiving urgent and appropriate investigation.

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