Bernhard Esau and Sacky Shanghala resigned yesterday as fisheries and justice ministers respectively after hundreds of emails leaked by Wikileaks this week named them as some of those who received bribes from an Iceland fishing company.
The Iceland company, Samherji, according to Wikileaks, paid out as much as N$150m to Esau, Shanghala, James Hatuikulipi and Esau’s son-in-law Tamson ‘Fitty’ Hatuikulipi.
President Hage Geingob accepted their resignations and thanked them “for their patriotism and contribution to the work of Government”.
Although the two have resigned as ministers, they still have their parliamentary seats and on the Swapo Party list that was submitted to the Electoral Commission of Namibia.
Geingob has, meanwhile, appointed Frans Kapofi as acting minister of justice and Albert Kawana as acting minister of fisheries.
SAMHERJI – This is not how we do business
Samherji said they were disappointed to learn that Jóhannes Stefánsson, their former managing director of Samherji’s operations in Namibia, appears to have been involved in questionable business practices and possibly entangled Samherji in activities that may be illegal.
In a statement on Wednesday, Samherji said, Jóhannes Stefánsson was fired from his position in Namibia in 2016 because of mismanagement and unacceptable behaviour.
“Now he has admitted to engaging in illegal activities while managing Samherji’s subsidiaries in Namibia.
Until recently, we had no knowledge of the scope and nature of Jóhannes Stefánsson’s business practices and it is uncertain whether they really were the way he describes.
“As we have already reported, we have engaged the international law firm Wikborg Rein in Norway to investigate the activities in Namibia. In this investigation, nothing will be excluded and we will disclose its findings as soon as they become available.
“We are deeply shocked that Johannes Stefánsson not only admits being involved in illegal activities, he is now also making allegations against colleagues. This is not Samherji,” the company said in the statement.
It added that Samherji has been running a successful international operation for 35 years. We always strive to act in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.
“Samherji will co-operate with the relevant authorities that may investigate the fisheries industry in Namibia. If such an investigation will take place, Samherji has nothing to hide.”