Fishrot pretrial hearing pushed to January 2022

Published on
October 25, 2021
Namibian High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg has pushed a pretrial hearing of 10 people involved in the Fishrot scandal to January 2022

Namibia's High Court has delayed a pretrial hearing of 10 people accused of involvement in the Fishrot scandal to January 2022.

The Fishrot scandal centers around allegedly corrupt dealings between Namibian firm Fishcor and Icelandic seafood company Samherji involving more than USD 650 million (EUR 536 million). High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg said the accused, who include former fisheries minister Bernhard Esau and ex-minister of justice Sacky Shanghala, would use the time between now and January 2022 to respond to some of the concerns raised by the prosecution.

The charges leveled against the accused include fraud, bribery, corruption, racketeering, money laundering, and tax evasion. The charges emerged from questionable fishing rights allocations by Fishcor to Namgomar Pesca Namibia between 2014 and 2019, before they were subsequently transferred to Samherji subsidiaries in Namibia.

Samherji apologized in June 2021 and said the company’s former managing director in Namibia “withdrew significant sums of cash from the companies’ accounts without any or proper explanation.”

The cash “was improperly used and the former managing director acknowledged this conduct and apparently various other criminal activities where Samherji companies were used," Samherji said.

Earlier in October, Namibian High Court Justice Christie Liebenberg approved an application by the country’s prosecution to consolidate two fishery bribery cases involving the two former ministers and several others accused in the case. Liebenberg said the consolidation should ensure there is not duplication of evidence and for the interest of the suspects and rule of law.

"The spoils generated from the unlawful enterprise are the proceeds of crime and must be proved in both cases. To this end, a duplication of evidence would not be in the interest of the accused person neither the interest of justice," Liebenberg said in his ruling.

The prosecution is expected push to resolve legal hurdles in extraditing other suspects in the case, including Marén de Klerk, a lawyer who is accused of being the paymaster in the Fishrot scandal, who currently resides in South Africa.

South Africa's Justice Department confirmed receiving a request from the Namibian government for de Klerk's extradition in June 2021.

Photo courtesy of the Namibian High Court

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