SAMHERJI, the Icelandic multinational fishing company at the centre of the corruption scandal that hit Namibia like a tornado and saw the immediate resignation of two Namibian Cabinet ministers, has announced that the Chief Executive Officer that claimed that the company has nothing to hide was asked to step aside while investigations into the so-called Fishrot Files are competed.
In a statement earlier on Thursday the company said the Board of Directors of Samherji have agreed that the CEO Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson will step aside for the time being until the pending internal investigation into the company’s subsidiaries’ alleged wrongdoing in Namibia has revealed the key material facts of the matter.
In the wake of the scandal that made news headlines around the world over the past two days both Bernhard Esau and Sacky Shanghala tendered their immediate resignation during a meeting with President Hage Geingob at State House on Wednesday.
The full statement reads as follows:
The CEO and the Board of Directors of Samherji have agreed that the CEO Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson will step aside for the time being until the pending internal investigation into the company’s subsidiaries’ alleged wrongdoing in Namibia has revealed the key material facts of the matter.
During that period, Björgólfur Jóhannsson will function as acting CEO of Samherji effective immediately. Jóhannsson has been the CEO & President of Icelandair Group, Chair of Fisheries Iceland (SFF), Chair of The Icelandic Employers Association (SA) and CEO of the seafood company Icelandic Group. He will focus on meeting the employees and key stakeholders in the coming days.
The internal investigation, which is assisted by the Norwegian and international law firm Wikborg Rein, will continue at full force, reporting directly to the Board of Directors.
“Samherji employs thousands of people globally. We take this serious step to ensure and demonstrate the complete integrity of the ongoing investigation. At Samherji we are committed to fair and honest business, and we will always strive to act in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, says Eirikur S. Jóhannsson, Chair of the Board of Directors of Samherji.
Samherji has not been approached by any authorities so far, but it will of course co-operate with any relevant authorities that may take interest in Samherji’s activities in Iceland, in Namibia or elsewhere.
“Samherji plays an important role in the fishing industry worldwide and we have a responsibility towards our people and customers. I am deeply saddened by the circumstances, but I will do my best to safeguard the interest of Samherji and its employees”, says Björgólfur Jóhannsson in a comment.
Until the investigation has been concluded we will not comment on specific allegations and the company has no further comments at this stage.