Lawyer trashes “conflict of interest” allegations in Tjivikua Investigation
A prominent lawyer tasked by TransNamib to assist with compiling disciplinary charges against its ex-chief executive officer, Hippy Tjivikua, has flatly denied allegations that he had been involved with tender businesses with the railway state-owned enterprises before.
Philip Ellis has come out to trash allegations contained in a document made available to The Villager by a high ranking government official.
The document alleges that his company, Gecko Drilling and Blasting (Pvt) Ltd had pocketed N$1 085 246.27 after carrying out work at the Dune 7 spill site which had been contracted to HRD Trading Enterprises CC by TransNamib.
Instead, the lawyer said he did not know about a contract between Gecko Drilling and Blasting and HRD until his firm was requested to try and collect payment for work done for HRD Trading amounting to N$1 085 246.27.
He flatly denied having any present links to the Gecko Group either, which he said he left on 1 March 2014 as well as Gecko Drilling whose name was only subsequently changed to Gecko Blasting and Drilling.
“HRD Trading was fully paid for this work by TransNamib (and much more) but then never paid Gecko. The High Court gave judgement to Gecko on this basis. The total amount paid by TransNamib for this project, which includes some other subcontractors who claimed slightly more than N$2 million (and is until today also not fully paid) amounted to a whopping N$14 million,” he said.
He said the only relationship he has with Gecko concerns his rendering of services to them as a practising legal practitioner.
He pointed out that he happens to have his practice in the same building as Gecko which makes him the obvious choice for Gecko’s legal services.
The allegations in the document also suggest that Ellis is part of a gang at TransNamib carrying out a witch-hunt and victimisation against Tjivikua.
Ellis received instructions to pursue disciplinary proceedings against Tjivikua to try and establish the reason for the vast difference of some N$11 million between the cost of sub-contractors and the amount paid by TransNamib in respect of this contract as well as two other contracts where it is alleged the same type of discrepancies exist.
The document defined him as a “darling of TransNamib” alleging that his law-firm, Ellis and Partners Legal Practitioners, has “racked up a bill more than a whopping N$ 200 000.00” for investigations he is carrying out against Tjivikua which the TransNamib CEO is refusing to pay.
Ellis defended this N$200 000 as having emanated from his “normal hourly fees” he charged for the work TransNamib tasked him to do.
He admitted that indeed, the CEO insinuated that he should stop investigating Tjivikua because he would not get paid.
He said that he interpreted this to be an attempt to persuade him to stop his investigation against Tjivikua.
“This prompted a letter by Philip Ellis to the Minister of Works and Transport which formed the basis of the information on the front page of the Namibian of 8 August which information did not emanate from the offices of Ellis and Partners.”
“Philip Ellis is quite willing to be scrutinised for his actions by the Law Society of Namibia or any other entity which has jurisdiction over his conduct. Similarly, every person who may be suspected of wrongdoing and is convinced that his actions are justified should surely be keen to prove his innocence before a proper tribunal created for the purpose.”
Meanwhile, concerning allegations levelled against him, Ellis said: “He has little respect for people who anonymously spread lies and false accusations about the integrity of others in an attempt not to be held accountable for their actions”.
The CEO, John Smith, is also said to be in the line of fire from the state enterprise’s board for seemingly refusing to make good on payments to Ellis.
Tjivikua was not available until after the time of publication while TransNamib Public Relations Officer Ailly Hangula requested emailed questions for the CEO.