• ELIASER NDEYANALE
FORMER National Fishing Corporation of Namibian (Fishcor) finance manager Paulus Ngalangi said N$17,5 million paid from Fishcor’s bank account to the law firm Sisa Namandje & Co was aimed at funding “governmental objectives”.
Ngalangi said this in an affidavit submitted to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) two years ago and filed at the High Court at the end of last year.
Instead of funding government projects, such as drought programmes, around N$15 million was later paid to businessman Vaino Nghipondoka and Swapo’s Oshikoto regional coordinator, Armas Amukwiyu, in 2015.
Ngalangi’s affidavit, which was never reported in the media, provides an insight into how politically connected individuals benefited from public funds via lawyer Sisa Namandje’s law firm. Namandje has denied any wrongdoing.
Accountant Ngalangi was appointed as Fishcor’s finance general manager in April 2015, around six months after James Hatuikulipi was appointed as Fishcor’s board chairperson. Ngalangi is said to be close to Hatuikulipi.
A source familiar with their background said the two grew up together and Hatuikulipi was like Ngalangi’s big brother.
Ngalangi was in charge of Fishcor’s finances during events that resulted in the Fishrot corruption scandal.
He submitted an affidavit to the ACC two years ago to explain his role in the Fishrot scandal.
One of the controversial payments executed by Ngalangi as finance manager was a transfer of N$17,5 million to Namandje’s law firm.
Ngalangi said Fishcor transferred N$15 million in December 2015 to Sisa Namandje & Co, while N$2,5 million was paid in August 2017.
“I am aware of this payment of N$15 million, which was made from the Bank Windhoek account of Fishcor in December 2015 to Sisa Namandje & Co Inc’s trust account. As far as my recollection is concerned, the payment was for government objectives and it was an instruction received verbally from Mr Mike Nghipunya,” Ngalangi stated in his affidavit.
The definition of government objectives could be a key battle in the criminal case about the Fishrot scandal that is currently pending in the High Court.
Ngalangi said his understanding was that “government objectives are assistance to the government”.
Fishcor also transferred N$50 million into law firm Ellis Shilengudwa Inc’s trust account in 2017.
Ellis Shilengudwa Inc is co-owned by lawyer Jurie Badenhorst, who has for years acted as a lawyer for former justice minister Sacky Shanghala and Hatuikulipi.
Ngalangi said this transaction involved payments for the Etale property, as part of the state-owned Fishcor’s contribution to the Seaflower Pelagic Processing joint venture with the entity African Selection Trust (AST).
“My only role in this transaction was to effect the payments as per the email instruction of Mike Nghipunya,” he said.
“I had to split the transaction into different transactions as electronic fund transfer transactions only allow for a maximum amount of N$5 million per transaction,” he said.
Ellis Shilengundwa Inc issued a statement to The Namibian two years ago, denying any wrongdoing.
“The N$50 million documented in your letter was paid to a seller, as part of a transaction related to the acquisition of a fish processing factory at Walvis Bay, following approval by the Namibian Competition Commission,” the law firm’s board said.
The Namibian reported two years ago that Fishcor – whose board was headed by Hatuikulipi – bought a fish factory at the coast for N$160 million in 2016 amid concerns that the parastatal overpaid by as much as N$50 million for the property.