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Sanherji prepares to leave Namibia after massive Fishrot scandal

Samherji acting chief executive officer Björgólfur Jóhannsson

After torching a scandal storm in Namibia’s fishing sector, the Icelandic company Samherji is seeking to divest and leave the country.

Samherji is at the centre of what could be Namibia’s biggest scandal involving about N$150m in bribes paid in exchange for fishing quotas.

Two minister – Sacky Shanghala and Bernhard Esau – resigned last year when the scandal broke out.

They, together with former Investec manager James Hatuikulipi and Ricard Gustavo, Esau’s son-in-law Tamson Hatuikulipi and Pius Mwatelulo are in prison awaiting trial.

In Iceland, the scandal cost the company’s chief executive officer Thorsteinn Mar Baldvinsson’s job when he was forced to resign pending internal investigations over the company’s alleged wrongdoings in Namibia are underway.

The company’s acting chief executive officer Björgólfur Jóhannsson revealed in a statement on Friday 17 January that they are selling their assets in Namibia. Among the assets under the hammer is a N$400m vessel.

Jóhannsson said: “Samherji is currently de-investing its operation in Namibia but that will take some time. The process will be conducted in close dialogue with relevant authorities and in line with international standards and law.”

Interim CEO, Björgólfur Jóhannsson, said in a statement that Samherji is currently disinvesting his operation in Namibia, but that he did not provide a time frame, not to simply say that the process will “take some time”.

According to Jóhannsson, the process to emigrate from Namibia will be done “in close dialogue with the relevant authorities and in line with international standards and law”.

He, however, did not give any timeframe apart from saying that it would take some time to divest.

Jóhannsson also said that after the scandal infamously known as Fishrot, he has started implementing a corporate governance system that will make the company compliant with international standards.

“Samherji will develop and implement a holistic compliance system based on the company’s risk structure with a focus on, among other things, anti-corruption, economic sanctions and anti-money laundering.

“The new system will be part of the Samherji Group’s future management structure and will cover Samherji and all its subsidiaries.

“We will implement a system for risk assessment, code of conduct and policies in the compliance system,” Jóhannsson added.

Responding to the news that Samherji was emigrating from Namibia, opposition leader McHenry Venaani said the company should forget about leaving without paying compensation to the fishermen who list their jobs.

Writing on the microblogging site, Twitter, Venaani said: “We demand justice and their assets must compensate the poor. Western corruption is putting a bane on African economy.”

Wonder Guchu

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