Home Latest News Exclusive: Corruption in Namibian fishing industry revealed | News

Exclusive: Corruption in Namibian fishing industry revealed | News

<pre><pre>Exclusive: Corruption in Namibian fishing industry revealed | News
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Several figures close to the president of Namibia, Hage Geingob, were filmed discussing the laundering of political contributions, according to an investigation by Al Jazeera.

In Anatomy of a Bribe, the Al Jazeera Investigation Unit exposes corruption in the Namibian fishing industry, which involves the country's now former fisheries and marine resources minister, Bernhard Esau, as well as Geingob's personal lawyer, Sisa Namandje



Posing as Chinese investors, Al Jazeera journalists attempted to enter the Namibian fishing industry to acquire highly lucrative fishing quotas for a joint venture proposal with the Namibia Omualu fishing company.

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During the investigation, Esau requested a donation of $ 200,000 to the Chinese "investors,quot; for the ruling SWAPO party, before the country's general elections that took place on Wednesday.

Filmed by hidden cameras, Esau can also be seen accepting an iPhone from Al Jazeera reporters.

Under the instructions of the managing director of Omualu, Sacky Kadhila-Amoomo, the donation should be washed to the SWAPO party, under the pretext of a foreign investment in a real estate business.

The donation would be channeled through the fiduciary account of Sisa Namandje, who has been the personal lawyer of all Namibian presidents since the country's independence in 1990.

He is also the official returning from the ruling SWAPO party for internal elections.

"You should be careful when talking to people about paying the minister,quot; Namandje told undercover journalists when asked to confirm if he I was happy with his trust account used to launder funds for the election campaign of the SWAPO party.

"If you talk to several people about it, you will end … (makes a handcuff gesture)," he continued.

Namandje refused to discuss the origin or destination of the money that goes through his trust account.

While Al Jazeera's undercover reporters negotiated a partnership with Omualu, they were asked to make a payment of $ 500,000 and give a 20 percent stake in the joint venture to Mike Nghipunya, CEO of the state-owned Fishcor fishing company.

In return, Fishcor would provide preferential access to its fishing quotas, which are assigned by the fisheries minister.

As a public official, it would be illegal for Nghipunya to use his official position for personal gain.

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In response to the investigation, Kadhila told The Namibian newspaper that he knew from the beginning that undercover reporters were "fake businessmen."

"I played … to confirm my suspicions," said the managing director of Omualu.

Kadhila added that he reported the matter to the president's lawyer, Sisa Namandje, who in turn said he had alerted the police.

Al Jazeera's investigation is based on documents leaked by Johannes Stefansson, a former employee of the Icelandic fishing conglomerate Samherji, to the WikiLeaks complaint group.

The Al Jazeera Research Unit conducted a joint investigation with Icelandic state television RUVand the Icelandic magazine Stundin.

The so-called Fishrot files, published two weeks ago by Wikileaks, composed of emails, notes, PowerPoint presentations, company financial records, photos and videos, show how Samherji, one of Iceland's largest fishing companies, colluded with figures High-level political and commercial in Namibia will have preferential access to the lucrative fishing grounds of the country.

These high-ranking politicians include Esau and former justice minister Sacky Shanghala, who resigned since the documents were published.

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The documents obtained by Al Jazeera show that, from 2012 to the present, Samherji made payments for a total of more than $ 10 million to Esau, as well as to Shanghala-owned companies, Esau's son-in-law, Tamson Hatuikulipi, and his cousin James Hatuikulipi, president of Fishcor.

Most of these payments were billed to Samherji as "consulting fees," according to the documents.

The complainant Stefansson alleges that these payments were "bribes,quot; to guarantee Samherji's advantageous position in the Namibian fishing industry.

Shortly after Al Jazeera contacted the Namibian government for comment, both Esau and Shanghala resigned their posts.

James Hatuikulipi resigned from his job as president of Fishcor, while Thorsteinn Mar Baldvinsson "stepped aside,quot; as CEO of Samherji awaiting an internal investigation of the company.

Baldvinsson also resigned from the advice of several international fishing companies owned by Samherji.

Arrests on election day

On Namibian general election day on Wednesday, Esau, Shanghala, as well as James and Tamson Hatuikulipi and two others were arrested on charges of corruption.

The six are accused of fraud and corruption. They deny all accusations.

Despite the corruption scandal involving high-ranking people in the government, current President Hage Geingob and the ruling SWAPO party managed to win the elections, the Namibian election commission announced on Saturday.

The Fishrot affair has caused outrage both in Namibia and in Iceland, where voters are increasingly concerned about the levels of corruption between their country's business and political elites.

Last week, hundreds of protesters marched to the Namibian Anti-Corruption Commission calling for the resignation of director Paulus Noa, after he was accused of not taking sufficient measures against known cases of corruption in the country. In response, the Anti-Corruption Commission made progress with the issuance of arrest warrants.

In Iceland, thousands of people gathered in the main square in front of parliament on the weekend to protest against corruption.

Protesters called for the resignation of the country's Fisheries Minister, Kristjan Thor Juliusson, who used to be on Samherji's board of directors.

He has been a close friend with the disgraced former CEO Baldvinsson.

Speaking in parliament, Icelandic Pirate Party deputy Halldora Mogensen said "Iceland's innocence myth is dead."

All parties involved in the fraud in the Al Jazeera movie deny having acted wrong. In a press release, Samherji says he "has nothing to hide,quot; from any investigation.



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