Fishrot whistle-blower Stefansson feels vindicated

24 November 2021 | Crime

Fishrot whistle-blower Jóhannes Stefánsson says the bail applications of four men accused in the multimillion-dollar fisheries bribery scandal have vindicated the information he submitted to Namibian authorities. This, after he was branded an “unreliable drug addict” by those implicated.

Stefánsson’s name surfaced numerously during cross-examinations in the bail hearings of former Fishcor CEO Mike Nghipunya, his alleged proxies Otneel Shuudifonya and Phillipus Mwapopi, as well as Namgomar Pesca Namibia director Ricardo Gustavo.

Stefánsson was the managing director of Namibian operations for Icelandic fishing giant Samherji since 2011 and does not hide that he was at the centre of a bribery web – allegedly on orders from his principals.

He compiled what is today known as the ‘Fishrot Files’, a collection of thousands of documents and email communication by employees of Samherji, that indicated that the company had allegedly paid millions of dollars to high-ranking politicians and officials in Namibia with the objective of acquiring the country's coveted fishing quotas.

Speaking to Namibian Sun yesterday, Stefánsson said: “I have always known that my story is supported by good and strong evidence and, since I reported the cases to authorities in Namibia in August 2018, there has come much more evidence to support my story”.

Part of the journey

In his bail application last year, one of the men accused in the case, Tamson Hatuikulipi, urged the court not to read much into Stefánsson’s version of events, saying this was a man who embezzled money from his then employer, Samherji, to bankroll his drug habit.

Stefánsson yesterday said: “What I have been called and accused of is not something I have been concerned about, and I expected it. It’s just part of the journey as a whistle-blower.

“These accusations and allegations against me do not matter in my life; what matters is justice in the Fishrot cases for the Namibian people and [that] all the billions of dollars which Samherji, the sharks and the corrupt elite stole from the people will be paid back. That is what is important.”

Stefánsson is one of the State witnesses lined up for the trial, and yesterday reiterated that he will travel to Namibia to give his testimony, come rain or shine.

Truth revealed

He also confirmed that he has been following the live broadcasts of the bail hearings over the past three weeks.

“The bail hearings for the last weeks have been very good for the prosecutors, in my opinion, as the Fishrot accused have revealed a lot of truth, which we knew before or suspected and they have confirmed it,” he said.

“I was there and I know exactly how it was and who played which role and did what, but I am not surprised that they try to lie their way out of this and build a web of lies which, in my opinion, will not help their cases as the cases against them are strong.”