Fishrot accused denies money laundering – The Namibian

ONE of the men charged in the Fishrot fishing quotas fraud and corruption case says funds alleged to have been laundered through his bank accounts were legitimate salaries that he earned and money that he spent as farm manager for former justice minister Sacky Shanghala and his business partner James Hatuikulipi.

During the two years that he was an employee of a close corporation of Shanghala and Hatuikulipi, he received a total amount of about N$714 000 in salary payments, Nigel van Wyk (35) testified during his bail hearing before acting judge David Munsu in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

He said money was also paid into a bank account in his name on behalf of the close corporation Olea Investments Number 9 of Shanghala and Hatuikulipi. He used that money to make payments for the close corporation, of which he was an employee, Van Wyk said.

According to calculations he has made, based on tax invoices issued to Olea Investments No 9, he spent about N$514 000, using money paid into one of his bank accounts, to pay for goods and services provided to the close corporation, Van Wyk told the court.

He gave this explanation in connection with a count of money laundering that he is facing in the Fishrot criminal case, which is pending in the High Court.

The state is alleging that a total amount of about N$1,9 million that was the proceeds of crime was paid into bank accounts in Van Wyk’s name.

Of that amount, close to N$910 000 was paid by Olea Investments No 9, nearly N$678 000 was paid by the close corporation Otuafika Logistics of one of the accused in the Fishrot case, Pius Mwatelulo, about N$232 000 was paid by Hatuikulipi and N$105 000 came from a close corporation of Hatuikulipi, Greyguard Investments.

Van Wyk recounted that he met Shanghala while he was employed as a senior legal clerk in the Office of the Attorney General, when Shanghala was appointed as the country’s attorney general. He got to know Hatuikulipi as Shanghala’s business partner, he added.

He said Olea Investments No 9 bought a farm towards the end of 2016, and he became the close corporation’s first employee from the start of November 2017.

His main duties as employee of Olea Investments were the management, maintenance and improvement of the farm, which is situated west of Leonardville in the Omaheke region.

Van Wyk said his salary, after deductions, varied between about N$26 500 and about N$30 000 per month, and during the two years that he was employed by Olea Investments he received a total amount of N$713 778 in salary payments.

It is painful to him that the salary he worked for is included in the amount of N$1,9 million in alleged proceeds of crime that the state is claiming was paid into his bank accounts, Van Wyk said.

He added that other amounts paid into one of his bank accounts were not for his personal use, but were used to make payments on behalf of Olea Investments.

According to tax invoices made out to Olea Investments, Van Wyk made payments totalling N$513 796 for fuel, vehicle repairs and maintenance, building supplies, goods bought from grocery stores and shops selling household appliances, and other expenses.

Van Wyk, who has been detained since his arrest in December 2019, began to testify yesterday in support of his application to be granted bail, after the court was informed that former fisheries and marine resources minister Bernhard Esau, who is also applying for bail, was admitted to a hospital in Windhoek on Tuesday.

Esau (65) was also hospitalised for four days last week.

His defence lawyer, Florian Beukes, said he could not disclose the ailment over which Esau is in the hospital, except for saying that he is unwell.

The bail hearing is continuing.

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