Eba Kandovazu

THE suspect at the centre of the allegations that Fishrot suspects benefited with millions from fishing quotas allocated to an Angolan company the State alleges he is a shareholder of, says his continued incarceration could see his children dropping out of the Windhoek Gymnasium Private School.

Ricardo Gustavo (44), during his bail application today indicates that he is a father of five children, who currently depend on family members and his friends who ‘believe in his innocence’. He also testifies that his elderly parents also depended on him before his arrest. Gustavo is accused by the State of owning Namgomar Pesca Namibia, a subsidiary of Namgomar Pesca Limitada, which is owned by disgraced former Angolan Fisheries Minister, Victoria de Barros and her her son.

Gustavo today denies that he had shares in the company, saying he was instead employed as Director. A former Senior Manager at Investec Asset Management, Gustavo, also informs the court that his health deteriorated whilst in custody, adding that he at some point was “recklessly exposed” to the Corona virus. According to him, his medical aid situation as a result of his arrest also changed.

Namgomar Pesca Namibia is accused of receiving N$38 million from Samherji, the biggest Icelandic fishing company at the centre of the Fishrot scandal. The State is charging that N$31 million of the initial payment was shared amongst the suspects.

N$11 million is said to have been paid into Gustavo’s account. He reportedly received N$3 million for construction of his three bedroom house at the Finkentein estate, outside of Windhoek.

N$12.1 million is said to have been transferred to Otwafika Investment.

It is reported that the catching agreement was signed in 2014, following a trip by the suspects to Angola. Initially, the State charged the suspects separately in two different cases, namely the Namgomar case and the Fishcor case. The State has since joined the two matters, citing the same state witnesses will be called for the same matters.

Other suspects in the matter are former Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister, Bernard Esau, former Justice Minister Sacky Shanghala, James Hatuikulipi, Tamson Hatuikulipi, Pius Mwatelula, Mike Nghipunya, Otneel Shuudifonya, Phillipus Mwapopi and Nigel van Wyk. A number of companies belonging to the suspects have also been cited on the list of suspects.

It is reported that the suspects in the matter devised a plan to allow Samherji to apply for fishing licenses and subsequently enable Samherji to catch 50 000 tonnes of horse mackerel from fishing quotas allocated to Namgomar. Gustavo argues that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) investigators never afforded him an opportunity to explain his side of the story upon summoning him.

“Others were given a chance to provide their side of the story. Some of these people are now even State witnesses. I’ll give you an example of some of my co-accused too. They were given that chance. I believe there is a lot of malice on my side. I was not afforded that courtesy,” he argues.

The bail hearing continues tomorrow before Judge Herman Oosthuizen. Advocate Cliff Lutibezi represents the State while Trevor Brockerhoff represents Gustavo.