I was provided with a copy of the complete affidavit for the first time on Friday afternoon, 15 January 2021, prepared by Mr Maren De Klerk in April 2020.
It is very clear that the affidavit is factually and temporally (in terms of the timelines provided) incorrect. I have at all times offered my cooperation to the Anti-Corruption Commission (the “ACC”). In June 2020, Seaflower Pelagic Processing (“SPP”), on my request as Chairperson of the Board of SPP, had an Independent Forensic Audit compiled and this report was provided to Government departments, to the Attorney General and to the ACC. The report unreservedly cleared me and African Selection Trust (“AST”) of any wrongdoing.
Mr De Klerk seems to be under the mistaken impression that Project Seaflower, the Joint Venture between Fishcor and African Selection Fishing forms part of the Fishrot scandal. This project was offered to three potential partners before AST was approached to partner in the matter. The terms and conditions of the proposed Joint Venture were discussed based on the capital investment required for the Project, which capital investment in return required guarantees from Government. The investment was indeed made, Government Gazettes promulgated as guarantees in terms of the 50 000mt Horse Mackerel quota reserved and availed for the Project.
The Project is intended to be a joint venture and Fishcor owned 40% and would benefit in this shareholding. The biggest Sub-Saharan Pelagic Fishing plant has been built and employs more than 700 workers. The cannery has also been completed and employment for 450 workers has not only been advertised, but applicants have been vetted in terms of the NDP5 requirements. The Gazetted project was promulgated before AST was engaged under the objectives of Government. At all times negotiations were done with Mr James Hatuikulipi only. No business was ever discussed with Mr Sacky Shanghala.
Mr De Klerk describes his political connections and financial aspirations in detail and identifies so-called role-players. Only once you read the entire affidavit, does it become clear that he emphatically states that I was unaware of his role as paymaster in the Fishrot scheme? The alleged Fishrot scheme had nothing to do with myself or AST in any manner whatsoever.
The Fishrot scheme is about an Icelandic Company who paid for quotas and offered bribes. Mr De Klerk in the body of his affidavit elaborates on this scheme and his role in corruption and money laundering. He does not mention Project Seaflower during these admissions. Mr De Klerk is not truthful about his role and also fails to disclose important information.
As part of compliance regulations, the Head of Legal and Risk for my holding company, requested Mr De Klerk to sign a yearly declaration in confirmation that Celax Investment One, of which Mr De Klerk held representative shareholding pending NEEEF legislation being finalised. These declarations confirmed that Celax was a dormant company and was not finalised. It specifically stated that he will report any corrupt activity should he become aware of it. Mr De Klerk failed to do so.
Mr De Klerk on the way back from a consultation with our (SPPs) senior counsel on 19 December 2019 in Windhoek indicated that he was considering resigning from the board of SPP and cited personal reasons as the reason for his need to resign.
I only became aware of his possible involvement in the Fishrot scandal and that he could have used Celax without my knowledge or consent towards the end of January 2020. The media started reporting on it and I read about it in the newspaper. I immediately and actively distanced myself from this company. I attach hereto the two compliance declarations signed in 2018 and in 2019 by Mr de Klerk, the last a mere 3 weeks before the scandal broke in November 2019.
It is noted that Mr De Klerk provides privileged information about property transfers that his firm attended to. I have no alternative but to lodge a complaint with the Namibian Law Society to investigate these privileged disclosures which are irrelevant to any investigation. As his client at the time, he failed to disclose his conflict of interest to me and has now resorted to disclosing privileged information, not forming part of any ACC investigation.
I reiterate, I have no involvement in the Fishrot scandal and have not received one cent of the alleged corrupt Fishrot funds.
Since the Fishrot scandal broke, Project Seaflower, which entailed a N$700 000 000.00 (seven hundred million Namibian Dollar) investment and creator of 1100 jobs in the fishing industry, has been placed in jeopardy, all because of false accusations.
The matter has moved to arbitration to recover lost or unallocated quota totalling 95 000mt of horse mackerel and we await the outcome of such litigation. In the meantime, the company, its shareholders and workers continue to suffer under this cloud of insecurity and falsities perpetrated against the Project.