… “Highly corrupt”
….”The beginning of our relationship”
By Staff Reporter
As the internationally covered fishing quota scandal rocks Namibia this week, The Patriot is in possession of a series of documents which detail questions put to the now fisheries ex-minister, Bernard Esau, justice ex-minister Sacky Shangala and “Fitty” Tamson Hatuikulipi and Fishcor’s board chairperson James Hatuikulipi. The four have been accused of receiving kickbacks from Icelandic company, Samherji, to the tune of N$150 million after an undercover Al-Jazeera investigative unit caught Esau pants down on camera.
A video which was recorded on 30th August showed the former fisheries minister receiving a bribe and later being quizzed about it by the journalists took social media by storm this week resulting in the double-resignation of both Esau and Shanghala. Late last night, Investec in a press release announced the resignation of CEO James Hatuikulipi with immediate effect.
The Patriot is informed that Al-Jazeera will air the documentary covering claims of mass bribery and corruption in Namibia’s fishing sector by early December.
Al Jazeera has claimed that ex-Samherji employee turned whistle-blower Johannes Stefansson has said that he witnessed first-hand how Samherji’s chief executive officer Thornsteinn Mar Baldvinsson conspire with Esau to offer the Icelandic company access to Namibia’s most lucrative fishing resources. The whistle-blower has further told Al Jazeera that a series of bribes were paid by Samherji subsidiaries into companies in Namibia and Dubai and that many of these companies are owned by Esau’s son-in-law, “Fitty” Tamson Hatuikulipi, James Hatuikulipi and Shanghala.
Stefansson has also claimed that the ex-fisheries minister was understood by his colleagues at Samherji to be the ultimate beneficiary of these bribes paid by his associates.
“International Samherji emails from this period appear to support this, where you were described as a “shareholder” in Samherji’s Namibian enterprise and your political importance to their commercial endeavour is emphasised regularly in an environment the authors described as “highly corrupt,” Al Jazeera tell Esau in their list of questions.
Stefansson has also asserted that Tamson on two occasions, in 2012 and 2013, requested a cash payment equivalent to approximately US$50 000 to be made to him which he said was destined for Esau.
This was said to be in return for assistance helping Samherji break into the local fishing industry which has to be proved extremely lucrative for the Icelandic company.
Al-Jazeera puts it to Esau that according to the whistle-blower, Samherji paid over 25% of the quota usage fees due to Fishcor, money meant for the national purse and in some instances drought relief, into private companies owned by Esau’s associates. Stefansson claimed that these payments were for political influence in achieving Samherji’s aims.
Another allegation from Stefansson is also that the MOU on cooperation in the areas of fishing and aquaculture signed by Esau and his Angolan counterpart on the 18th of June 2014, was devised in collusion with Samherji’s senior management.
Stefansson has said that this was always designed to solely benefit Samherji companies by providing the Icelandic company with exclusive access to fishing quotas via Namgomar (Pty) Ltd, a company described as a front in the whole scheme.
Al-Jazeera has said that documents have been leaked to them which show how money paid into Namgomar by Samherji companies in return for quota has since been paid into companies owned by Esau’s son-in-law and Shanghala. “The documents further indicate that the vast majority of the quota usage fees due to Namgomar Pesca (Pty) Ltd were paid into an offshore company in Dubai founded and solely owned by James,” said Al Jazeera. Al-Jazeera also made it clear to Esau that it will broadcast allegations that Esau unilaterally appointed James as chairman of the Fishcor board with consultation.
Questions sent to Esau by Al-Jazeera
Q: Minister, what was the nature of your relationship with Samherji’s CEO and senior managers from 2012 to 2016?
Q: Minister, why did your son-in-law and close associates receive millions of dollars in payments from Samherji companies and was return for securing the bilateral agreement with Angola?
Q: Minister have you received payments via your son-in-law and close associates in return for assisting Samherji and its subsidiaries in gaining preferential and uniquely advantageous access to the Namibian fishing industry?
Q: Minister where you aware of payments totalling an estimated US$100 000 that Mr. Stefansson claims were made to you and how do you explain them?
Q: Minister, why did you consult the Fishcor board and go through the normal voting protocols to appoint Mr. James Hatuikulipi as chairman of the Fishcor board?
Q: How do you respond to allegations your close associates received millions of dollars in bribes in return for yours and their support in guaranteeing fishing quotas to Samherji?
Q: Is it true that you supported changing the laws around fishing quota allocations to benefit Samherji and in return for payments made to your close associates?
“Only the beginning of our relationship “
The entire debacle has in the meantime sucked in the name of prominent lawyer, Sisa Namandje.
Al Jazeera has claimed that undercover journalists discussed making a US$200 000 payment to Esau, ostensibly a political donation in return for wielding political influence in their favour.
Esau was recorded accepting the offer on the 30th of August 2019 in Tokyo and he said the payment needed to be hidden to avoid people claiming it was “money laundering” or “racketeering”.
On the 28th of August, Esau was recorded in Tokyo accepting a gift of an iPhone from an undercover Al-Jazeera reporter. The payment to Esau was agreed to be paid into a trust controlled by lawyer Sisa Namandje.
Cited a “close associate”, Swakopmund based businessman Sacky Kadhila Amoomo appeared to be the “go between”. Kadhila Amoomo co-owns Omualu along with other highly placed Namibians. According to Al Jazeera Kadhila Amoomo requested the use of a “reference number associated with a property development project, insisting it was essential we did not mention as a reference anything to do with political donations or you, the Minister.
He confirmed this payment would get to you and said this was the best way to keep it hidden while assuring our undercover journalists that you would do whatever they required moving forward in return for this payment,” said Al Jazeera.
Esau subsequently confirmed the amount of USD 200 000 as correct and stated “this was only the beginning of our relationship”.
Al Jazeera invited Esau to provide a response by the 7th of November but he never did.
Sacky gets sucked in
The Patriot was able to get all claims, evidence and questions sent to ex-justice minister Sakeus Shanghala.
The now resigned minister stands accused of being a beneficiary of payments from Samherji in return for work on securing a bilateral agreement with Angola for fish quotas in 2014. Claims are that he worked in collusion with his business partner and close associate, James as well as Tamson Hatuikulipi.
Al-Jazeera informed him that it had been tipped that a payment amounting to N$1.5 million was made in June 2014 from Mermaria Seafood Namibia to an entity known as “ERF One Nine zero Kuisebmond Pty Ltd, wholly owned by Cambadara Trust, of which he is a trustee.
According to Stefansson, the payments were supposed to be channelled to the SWAPO party for an internal party election in 2014.
This payment (N$500 000) was made in July 2014 from Mermaria Seafood Namibia. This was intended to be given as a bribe to Mike Nghipunya, chief executive officer at Fishcor, for his support on future quota allocations. Further evidence has been furnished for Shanghala.
Between June and July 2014, N$2million was paid by Mermaria Seafood Namibia, Al-Jazeera has claimed. Between August 2017 and October 2018, a company known as Olea Investments, in which Shanghala is said to have 50% shareholding, received payments totalling N$4.49 million from the Samherji owned company, Mermaria, via two companies Namgomar Pesca (Pty) Ltd and Otuafika Logistics.
Between November 2016 and March 2017, Cambadara Trust, of which Shanghala is a trustee, received payments totalling N$2.445 million from the Samherji owned Mermaria, via Namgomar and Otuafika.
Al-Jazeera said it had documentary evidence indicating that while Head of Law Reform and Development Commission, he edited legal petitions to have the Marine Resources Act changed in a manner that would benefit Samherji.
There are also documents showing that his business partner and close associate, James Hatuikulipi received millions of dollars and millions of US dollars from Samherji companies via companies in Namibia and Dubai.
Shanghala was also furnished with questions:
Were you paid directly or indirectly by Samherji in return for your work on any legislation or for your work promoting the Namibian-Angola bilateral agreement?
Did you conspire with James Hatuikulipi and Tamson Hatuikulipi to secure additional fishing quota for Samherji in return for personal financial gain?
Why did two companies in which you had financial interests receive payments totalling N$6.935 million from Otuafika Logistics?
Did you conspire with Samherji to change fishing legislation in order to benefit the company in return for your financial gain?
Do you have any further comments, statements or observations you wish to make in relation to anything that is said in this letter? Shangala has not responded to these questions.
“Hatuikulipi must be fired’- Leon Jooste
A source who claimed sight of the a letter reported that a request was made for the dismissal of the chief executive of Fishcor Mike Nghipunya.
This is in relation to the allegations of fraud and corruption related to Fishcor. The Patriot is aware that Jooste wants Hatuikulipi to be fired with immediate effect as well as the revocation of any form of power of attorney including signing powers.
James Hatuikulipi stands accused for benefiting from fishy payments from Samherji in return for his work on securing a bilateral agreement with Angola for fish quotas in 2014, from which the company benefitted.
He visited Iceland in 2013 along with Tamson and Shanghala in order to devise the bilateral agreement between Namibia and Angola and to create an arrangement which would allow Samherji to benefit.
Al-Jazeera has put it to him that he made it clear to Stefansson that his associate, Shanghala, would also benefit from payments emanating from this agreement.
James Hatuikilipi is said to have bagged N$150 000 to travel to Dubai in May 2014, in order to set up Tundavala Invest Limited, a company whose sole purpose was allegedly to receive up to 75% of the quota usage fee intended. Allegations are that he made it clear to Stefansson that Shanghala would benefit from payments emanating from the bilateral agreement.
Bank details in the hands of Al-Jazeera further show that Hatuikilipi was a beneficiary of payments resulting from the Namgomar Pesca (Pty) Ltd horse mackerel quota.
Hatuikilipi is to have benefitted from payments from Samherji in return for his work in ensuring Samherji subsidiaries gained preferential access to the horse mackerel quota allocated to Fishcor.
The evidence against Hatuikilipi
Al-Jazeera has told James that they are prepared to show Hatuikilipi evidence to the effect that between June and July 2014, N$2 million was paid by Mermaria to ERF One Nine Eight Zero Kuisebmond, of which he is a trustee. Between September 2014 and January 2019, N$4.1 million was paid by Samherji Cypriot subsidiaries Esja Seafood Limited, Mermaria Seafood Limited and Noa Pelagic Limited, to Tundavala Invest Limited, a company where Hatuikilipi serves in three different capacities such as Chairman, shareholder and secretary.
Al Jazeera reveals its intention to show in their upcoming documentary that between August 2017 and October 2018, Greyguard Investments, a company in which Hatuikilipi is the sole shareholder, received N$9.2 million from Namgomar Pesca via Otuafika Logistics.
Between November 2016 and March 2017, Cambadara Trust, of which Hatuikilipi is a trustee received payments totalling N$2.445 million from Mermaria via Namgomar and Otuafika Logistics.
Between January 2015 and October 2018, Hatuikilipi received N$1.8 million in his personal bank account indirectly from Namgomar via Otuafika.
Al-Jazeera sent Hatuikilipi the following questions:
Were you paid directly or indirectly by Samherji in return for your work on any legislation or for your work on promoting the Namgomar bilateral agreement?
Did you conspire with Tamson Hatuikulipi and Sakeus Shanghala to secure additional fishing quota from Samherji in return for your personal financial gain?
Why did two companies, which you have financial interests in, receive payments totalling N$6.935 million from Otuafika Logistics?
Do you have any further comments, statements or observations you wish to make in relation to anything that is said in this letter?
James Hatuikulipi’s relative, Tamson Hatuikulipi has also been furnished with pages of questions, claims and evidence by Al-Jazeera.
Tamson is said to have wadded into the fishing sector to strike dodgy deals while he had little experience of the sector.
He is said to have benefitted from Samherji monies as payment for work he did by securing horse mackerel quota for Samherji’s Namibian subsidiaries. Stefansson characterised these payments as bribe money which were made from January 2012 until at least July 2016. He also visited Iceland in 2013 along with James Hatuikulipi and Shanghala. Tamson received two cash payments of N$500 000 each, monies intended to be passed on to Esau.
Al Jazeera has said that they are aware of consultancy agreements between Samherji’s Namibia subsidiaries and that Tamson, at the end of 2011 and the start of 2014, gave cover for him to abuse his position as son-in-law of Esau in order to accept payments in exchange for ensuing Samherji’s preferential access to horse mackerel quota in the Namibian market. Tamson’s company, Erongo Clearing and Forwarding made invoices as a cover for him to abuse his position as son-in-law to Esau to accept payments. Al Jazeera has said it has evidence to the effect that a draft contract was drawn up between Esja Mar Fishing and himself, in which he had to declare willingness to assist Katla to enter into agreements with participants in the local fishing industry for mutual benefits.
A consultancy agreement signed on the 1st of January 2014 between Katla Seafood Namibia, represented by Stefansson, and Erongo Clearing and Forwarding, represented by Tamson, is said to be available.
The agreement meant that Tamson’s task was to, among others, “advise Samherji’s Namibian subsidiaries in respect with key role players and right/quota holders in the Angolan fishing industry and that of Namibia”.
Al-Jazeera raised the following questions:
What skills or qualifications did you possess in the fishing industry that enabled you to submit invoices to Samherji for consultancy work?
Did you pass money to the minister of fisheries in return for his assistance in securing fishing quota for Samherji?
Did you collude with James Hatuikulipi and Mr. Shanghala and Samherji to secure further fishing quota for the company via the Namibia/Angola bilateral agreement in return for payments?
Did you pass any of the money that you received from Samherji or its subsidiaries to Minister Esau, James Hatuikulipi or Minister Shanghala?
Did you direct Sharon Neumbo to increase her fees so that you could take portion of the Samherji payments, as she describes?
Hatuikulipi, the owner of multiple luxury vehicles didn’t respond.