Namibia calls off “Fishrot” scandal funds chase

Namibia Anti-Corruption Commission Director General Paulus Noa.

Namibia’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has called off an investigation into a foreign bank account it earlier claimed to be one of those linked to so-called "Fishrot" scandal, saying the probe turned out to be "a wild-goose chase."

ACC Director General Paulus Noa told The Namibian the investigation into allegations of nearly NAD 1 billion (USD 69.8. million, EUR 59.1 million) from the infamous “Fishrot” corruption scandal being held in a bank account in Kazakhstan have no basis and termed the claims “bogus.”

“Our investigation could not establish the existence of a bank account and amount of money in Kazakhstan linked to the fishery case. Our conclusion on that issue is that the information by [Marén] De Klerk as far as that money is concerned is bogus,” Noa said.

The claim was first revealed in July 2020 by former ACC Senior Investigator Willem Olivier, who attributed it to De Klerk, a lawyer representing Celax Investments – an entity allegedly used as a conduit to divert funds from National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) to bank accounts held by suspects in the “Fishrot” corruption scandal.

De Klerk, who is currently living in South Africa, is awaiting conclusion of an arrest and extradition application process by Namibia to have him stand trial with the other accused persons, who are in custody awaiting hearings for their applications for bail.

The “Fishrot” corruption scandal was unearthed in November 2019, with more than USD 650 million (EUR 536 million) flagged as suspicious proceeds, roping in Fishcor and Icelandic fish processing firm Samherji.

Former Namibian cabinet ministers Bernhardt Esau and Sakeus Shanghala and other seven suspects are alleged to have received NAD 103.6 million (USD 7.2 million, EUR 6.1 million) from Samherji to allow the seafood company unfair access to Namibian horse mackerel quotas.

Samherji has denied any intentional involvement in the scandal. The company fished in Namibia between 2014 and 2019 via catch quotas allocated by the government to the private company Namgomar Pesca (Pty) Ltd. (Namgomar Namibia). Nevertheless, the company has apologized for its involvement.

Samherji said an investigation had revealed that government officials, both in Namibia and Angola – including the fisheries ministers of both countries – had not only worked with other individuals associated with them in Namibia and Angola to establish Namgomar Namibia, but influenced the leasing of catch quotas to Samherji affiliates.  

Photo courtesy of the Namibia Anti-Corruption Commission


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