November 23, 2019 / 4:20 PM / 21 days ago

Namibia's former fisheries minister, ex-Investec manager arrested on corruption charges

WINDHOEK (Reuters) - Namibian police on Saturday arrested the former Minister of Fisheries Bernhardt Esau and a former senior manager of investment firm Investec on charges of corruption.

Police Inspector-General Sebastian Ndeitunga said Esau and former client manager of Investec Asset Management in Namibia, Ricardo Gustavo, have been formally charged and are expected to appear in court within 48 hours.

Esau and Gustavo were arrested following allegations they were involved in a fishing scheme that generated kickbacks of at least 150 million Namibian dollars ($10.20 million).

Esau has denied any wrongdoing and Gustavo could not be reached for comment.

Esau and Justice Minister Sakeus Shanghala quit earlier this month over the bribery claims made in media reports.

The two former ministers are alleged to have awarded horse mackerel quotas to Iceland’s biggest fishing firm Samherji in exchange for bribes. Samherji said it had hired a law firm to investigate the allegations.

The Namibia managing director of South African investment firm Investec James Hatuikulipi resigned two days after the ministers after allegations that he spearheaded the scheme, while Gustavo was suspended.

The Anti-Corruption Commission Director-General Paulus Noa said warrants of arrest have been issued to other Namibian officials and businessmen implicated in the matter. He did not give names.

Shanghala and Hatuikulipi did not respond to requests for comment.

Investec said earlier this week that the individuals suspected in the case had left the bank and the company had no connection to it. Its ex-employees had not used their positions at Investec to facilitate the alleged scheme in any way, it added.

Reporting by Nyasha Nyaungwa; Editing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Alexandra Hudson

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