Prosecutor General Martha Imalwa has questioned the motives of Icelanders facing criminal charges in the Fishrot bribery case in Namibia.
In an affidavit filed on Friday, Imalwa took issue with the Icelander’s Samherji executive Ingvar Júlíusson’s court request to have her and the State’s star witness and whistleblower Jóhannes Stefánsson take the stand and be cross-examined in the matter in which Imalwa is seeking a final preservation order of various properties belonging to the Fishrot accused.
Stefánsson is a former Samherji executive.
“The defendants want me and the prosecution’s main witness to be called up for interrogation on issues at the heart of the merits of the criminal case. They do, however, not offer to come to Namibia, give evidence and submit to cross-examination on the same issues,” argued Imalwa.
According to Imalwa, Júlíusson, alongside Egill Helgi Árnason, Aðalsteinn Helgason and six of their fishing companies, are merely on a fishing expedition to establish the conditions and statutory arrangements put in place for Stefánsson once he comes to Namibia to testify.
The head of prosecution said no formal extradition request has been made to Iceland for the Icelandic fishing company directors Júlíusson, Árnason and Helgason.
She said the request could not be made without the accused being indicted.
The indictment was only finalised on 12 April. So, the email from Icelandic District Prosecutor, dated 19 February, stating Iceland will not extradite their countrymen to Namibia due to lack of an extradition treaty between the two nations, is an informal response, as no formal request was made, clarified Imalwa.
“Iceland would only have authority to refuse extradition if the person or persons requested is or are in Iceland. So, Iceland cannot refuse extradition if the persons sought for extradition are not in Iceland. And the contention that these directors will not be extradited is premature,” said Imalwa.
However, a warrant of arrest has been issued against them.
But due to the absence of the directors in Namibia, the warrants have not yet been executed; however, once their whereabouts have been determined, necessary steps will be taken to ensure they stand trial in Namibia.
Imalwa said the companies for and on behalf of whom Stefánsson acted are criminally liable for his conduct and have since been indicted.
Júlíusson, Árnason and Helgason are currently awaiting trial alongside former fisheries minister Bernardt Esau, former justice minister Sacky Shanghala, James Hatuikulipi, Tamson Hatuikulipi, Ricardo Gustavo, Pius Mwatelulo, Nigel van Wyk, Otneel Nandetonga Shuudifonya and Phillipus Mwapopi in the Namgomar case in which they are accused of paying at least N$103.6 million in bribes to their co-accused so they can get a competitive advantage in securing horse mackerel quotas in Namibia.
The group is also charged alongside 11 corporate entities and trusts connected to them.
The Icelanders managed or co-managed Samherji’s companies in Namibia.
According to Iceland Review, Árnason has been charged for his work for Esja Holding and Mermaria Seafood Namibia.
Júlíusson was the financial director for Saga Seafood, Esja Investment and Heinaste Investments.
The case is scheduled for 21 October for a pre-trial hearing in the High Court.
Imalwa has already obtained an interim property restraint order over a wide range of assets linked to Gustavo, Esau, Shanghala and James Hatuikulipi.
The forfeiture also includes the assets of Esau’s son-in-law Tamson Hatuikulipi, his wife Swamma Esau and daughter Ndapandula Hatuikulipi, and 10 companies in which they have interests.