By Shinovene Immanuel | 4 February 2020
THE Anti-Corruption Commission is looking for a Namibian lawyer linked to N$90 million paid out in dubious transactions from the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor).
The money was allegedly paid out to individuals implicated in the Fishrot scandal while some of it was used to buy properties abroad.
ACC director general Paulus Noa did not reveal the lawyer’s name but he confirmed that the transactions involved close to N$90 million.
The Namibian understands that one of the people being tracked down by the graft watchdog is lawyer Marén de Klerk from the Windhoek-based law firm De Klerk, Horn & Coetzee (DHC) Inc. A source familiar with the matter said De Klerk – a close associate and lawyer of former justice minister Sacky Shanghala – was questioned by the ACC last month. He subsequently travelled to South Africa on 17 January and has not returned.
The N$90 million paid by Fishcor appears to have benefited the same clique that included former ministers Bernhard Esau and Sacky Shanghala and former Investec Asset Management Namibia managing director James Hatuikulipi, who allegedly pocketed close to N$103 million from Fishrot bribes. Noa said the latest suspect can run but not hide.
“I will not reveal who he is but I just want him to come back. He will not hide forever,” Noa told The Namibian yesterday.
The ACC chief said he was shocked by the latest findings of the case. “It’s actually worse,” he said.
According to him, some used the ill-gotten money from Namibia’s fishing resources to buy properties in South Africa and abroad.
The Namibian has since last year reported how lawyers colluded with politicians to transfer millions of dollars out of Fishcor – chaired by Hatuikulipi – to benefit Swapo and other individuals connected to power.
De Klerk is the managing director of DHC Inc. He was unreachable for comment. DHC Inc director Stoan Horn confirmed to The Namibian yesterday that De Klerk travelled to South Africa on 17 January 2020.
“That’s according to our knowledge. I don’t know when he will return,” Horn, who is also a lawyer, said.
Questioned why he was clueless about the whereabouts of his business partner, Horn said: “I honestly don’t know”.
He said he has no information on whether their company DHC Inc is implicated in the scandal in which N$90 million was allegedly siphoned from Fishcor.
He confirmed that he was aware that there was an investigation into the fishing scandal, but insisted that De Klerk should be able to answer questions about his role in the matter, if any.
“All I can say is that we will give our full cooperation to any institution,” Horn said.
For years, politicians and their friends used Fishcor as an arena for bribes and funding their extravagant lifestyles.
The kickback masterminds found several schemes to achieve this goal, including establishing a joint venture at Fishcor, which created an entity called Seaflower Pelagic Processing with foreign partners.
Fischor owned 40% while the South Africans and an Angolan-based company, African Selection Fishing Namibia, owned 60%.
The directors of that entity were De Klerk, Hatuikulipi, suspended Fishcor chief executive Mike Nghipunya, Angolan-based South African accountant Johannes Augustinus Breed, and economist Adriaan Jacobus Louw.
The Namibian reported in 2018 how this questionable joint venture favoured a South African outfit despite getting N$1,8 billion over a 15-year period from Esau.
The quota represented 16% of the total allowable catch (one out of every seven fish caught) while other companies were forced to scramble for the leftover allocations.
Shanghala was the attorney general when that joint venture was finalised, which benefited an entity led by his friends and associates, De Klerk and Hatuikulipi.
De Klerk and Shanghala had something else in common – the N$140 million estate of the late businessman Aaron Mushimba.
De Klerk was the executor of that estate and Shanghala declared to parliament that he was a trustee of the Aaron Mushimba Family Trust.
De Klerk represented Shanghala in court disputes, such as where the former minister decided to sue politician Job Amupanda for defamation in 2018.
Shanghala sued Amupanda for N$500 000 over social media posts, which stated that Shanghala was “an epitome and symbol of corruption in Namibia”. The two settled the matter out of court later that year.