THE state is alleging that six of the accused men and a key company charged in the first of the two Fishrot fishing quotas corruption cases not only defrauded the government of an amount of N$150 million, but also dodged paying taxes totalling more than N$44 million on their income from 2014 to 2019.
This is among the allegations made by the state in an indictment, signed by prosecutor general Martha Imalwa, in which the 14 charges faced by seven men and 11 corporate entities and trusts connected to them are set out.
The accused made their first pretrial appearance on the indictment in the Windhoek High Court, where they are due to stand trial, on Thursday last week.
In its indictment, the state is charging that the company Namgomar Pesca Namibia, which received Namibian horse mackerel fishing quotas totalling 50 000 metric tonnes from 2014 to 2019, under-declared its income from fishing quota usage agreements with Icelandic-owned companies by close to N$30,3 million from 2015 to 2019. The company is alleged to have failed to pay tax amounting to some N$9,7 million on that income.
Namgomar Pesca Namibia, its sole director, Ricardo Gustavo, former attorney general and justice minister Sacky Shanghala, ex-minister of fisheries and marine resources Bernhard Esau, businessmen James Hatuikulipi and Tamson Hatuikulipi, and Pius Mwatelulo, together with seven close corporations, two trusts and a company linked to them, are charged with fraud in connection with that alleged tax evasion by Namgomar Pesca Namibia.
Shanghala, Esau, James Hatuikulipi, Tamson Hatuikulipi, Gustavo and Mwatelulo are also charged with fraud in their individual capacities for allegedly evading tax on their personal incomes from 2014 to 2019.
The state is alleging that James Hatuikulipi failed to declare a total amount of N$52,5 million in personal income from 2014 to 2019, and in the process evaded income tax amounting to N$19,4 million.
His cousin and Esau’s son-in-law, Tamson Hatuikulipi, failed to declare close to N$19,5 million in personal income from 2014 to 2019 and did not pay N$2,4 million in tax on that income, the state is also charging in its indictment.
Gustavo is accused of having failed to declare income totalling N$21,9 million from 2015 to 2019 and evading tax amounting to close to N$7,5 million during that period.
Shanghala is charged with having evaded N$2,4 million in tax on undeclared income of about N$7,9 million, Esau is alleged to have dodged tax payments of N$1,8 million on undeclared income of N$6,1 million, and Mwatelulo allegedly failed to pay taxes amounting to some N$856 000 on undeclared income of N$3,3 million.
In its indictment, the state is also setting out the amounts of money which it claims the accused derived as benefits from their involvement in an alleged corrupt scheme around the allocation of Namibian fishing quotas to Namgomar Pesca Namibia.
According to these allegations, James Hatuikulipi received at least N$48,1 million, as well as US$4,1 million (about N$59 million), claimed to have been paid into a bank account of his company Tundavala Invest Limited in the United Arab Emirates, as financial benefits from his alleged involvement in the scheme.
Tamson Hatuikulipi is alleged to benefited to the tune of at least N$57,6 have million, while the financial benefit received by Shanghala is put at about N$21,3 million, Gustavo is alleged to have received at least N$22,4 million, Mwatelulo received payments of N$5,8 million into his personal bank accounts, and an employee of Shanghala and James Hatuikulipi, Nigel van Wyk, is claimed to have received payments totalling N$1,9 million from parties involved in the alleged scheme.
In one of the fraud charges faced by the accused, the state is alleging that they defrauded the Namibian government in an amount of N$150 million, which is claimed to have been the value of horse mackerel quotas totalling 50 000 tonnes allocated by Esau to Namgomar Pesca Namibia from 2014 to 2019.
Those quotas were sold to companies owned by the Icelandic fishing company Samherji HF.
Samherji’s subsidiaries Mermaria Seafood Namibia and Saga Seafood paid a total amount of N$117,5 million as quota usage fees to Namgomar Pesca Namibia, Tamson Hatuikulipi’s close corporations Erongo Clearing and Forwarding CC and JTH Trading CC, N$1,3 million to James Hatuikulipi and US$4,1 million to Tundavala Invest Limited, it is also stated in a charge of money laundering faced by the accused.
The accused – all of whom are being held in custody – are scheduled to return to the Windhoek High Court for a second pretrial hearing on 20 May.