Samherji steps up corporate governance amid Namibian corruption allegations

Published on
January 22, 2020

Icelandic fisheries company Samherji is to implement a group-wide corporate governance and compliance system in response to the alleged wrongdoings in its Namibian operations.

The new system will be part of the Samherji Group’s future management structure and will cover Samherji and all of its subsidiaries, the company said. It is expected to be up and running later this year. 

“Samherji will develop and implement a holistic compliance system based on the company’s risk structure with focus on, among others, anti-corruption, economic sanctions, and anti-money laundering,” Samherji interim CEO Björgólfur Jóhannsson said. “The compliance system will be key in a new internal program, where we will require all employees to take active part in the process to reassess our values, culture, and routines. We will implement a system for risk assessment, code of conduct, and policies in the compliance system.”

Jóhannsson also said that while Samherji has faced serious accusations from the media in recent months, the company has managed to protect relationships with customers and partners both domestically and abroad and has continued to service all customers as normal.  

“Our employees have, as always, done a fantastic job focusing on making sure we deliver product of top quality to the local and international market,” he said.

Samherji is currently de-investing its operation in Namibia – a process that is expected to take some time. The company said this withdrawal will be conducted in close dialogue with relevant authorities and in line with international standards and law.

In November last year, Samherji launched an internal investigation into its Namibian activities in light of allegations of bribery made by Jóhannes Stefánsson, a former managing director of Samherji's operations in Namibia. At the same time, WikiLeaks published thousands of documents claiming to expose corrupt schemes by the company to gain access to rich fishing grounds in the country.

CEO Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson has stepped aside while the internal investigation is conducted.

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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