Icelandic and Russian captains arrested as fishrot scandal deepens

Amid the unfolding bribery and money-laundering scandal that has rocked the local fishing industry, Icelandic captain Arngrimur Brynjolfsonn and Russian Yuri Festison were on Thursday arrested for fishing illegally some 200 nautical miles from the Namibian shoreline.

Arngrimur Brynjolfsonn is described by Iceland’s state broadcaster as a ‘former Samherji vessel captain’
Three Samherji vessels, including Heinaste, were spotted in shallow fishing grounds this week still catching.

FISHCOR IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Sackey Shangala, James Hatuikulipi and Tamson Hatuikulipi during a trip to Iceland.

FISHY TRANSACTIONS

Stundin noted that Samherji is the single largest shipping company in Iceland, factoring in domestic and foreign operations. It generated profits of around N$14.4 billion between 2011 and 2019.

‘CONSULTANCY PAYMENTS’

According to the whistleblower, Jóhannes Stefánsson, a former company employee, Samherji paid a bribe for the very first quota the shipping company acquired in Namibia. The payments were called “consultancy payments” at Samherji, but as the former managing director of Samherji in Namibia from 2012 to 2016, Stefánsson says these were in fact bribes.

Amounts paid to Tamson Hatuikulipi’s firm Erongo Clearance and Forwarding Services in 2014 total N$10 million.
The agreement Tamson Hatuikulip and Samerhji’s agents.

THE WHISTLE-BLOWER

Jóhannes Stefánsson

TAX HAVENS

Stefánsson also claimed that about US$100 million of Samherji’s income in Namibia could not be traced, and suspects that this money was taken out of Samherji, possibly through tax shelters.

Bernhard Esau and Thorstein Má Baldvinsson, CEO of Samherji, at Tamson Hatuikulipi’s house in Windhoek.

ASKED TO PAY

According to the report, Stefánsson said that in 2012, “Fitty Tamson Hatuikulipi asked him to pay Esau, the minister of fisheries… He claims to have called Aðalstein Helgason, the managing director of Kötla Seafood, who was his immediate supervisor, and asked him about it. “I called Aðalstein and told him that I was to pay the Minister of Fisheries 500,000 Namibian dollars.

“Then Aðalstein told me that whenever I had the opportunity to pay the minister of fisheries, I should pay the minister of fisheries. He somehow put it this way. I took it out in cash and let Tamson have it. Tamson was an intermediary in this. I did this twice.”

He said the minister received personal pay, even though the amounts were small compared to the hundreds of millions of dollars that the data show the three closest to him received from Samherji.

‘I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING’

Related: How I bribed the minister to get fishing quota in Namibia

Writer, reporter, activist