Eba Kandovazu

RICARDO Gustavo, one of the suspects in Namibia’s biggest fishing corruption scandal is refuting allegations that the scandal resulted in 18000 job losses in the fishing industry, saying that the job losses were a result of an illegal strike the workers undertook.

Gustavo, today during his bail application, said in actual fact, he and his associates created job opportunities in addition to services at the Walvis Bay port, which he says has benefited Namibians. According to him, vessels were deployed. He is accused of owning a company, Namgomar Pesca Namibia, a subsidiary of an Angolan company, Namgomar Pesca Limitada, which received N$ 38 million from Samherji.

Gustavo says he received a salary of N$6.9 million from Namgomar Pesca Namibia, where he was the only employee. “On the 18 000 jobs that were purportedly lost, my understanding is that that is within the entire fishing industry. At some point there was an illegal strike, that was not even in the horse mackerel sector, there were also some businesses that were perhaps slowing down I’m not sure, and that is what led to this. The assertion that is made or what the public is made to believe is that the job losses were created because of this Angola-Namibia Fisheries agreement and that I refute,” he says.

According to Gustavo, it is impossible that “an entity that got less than three percent of the total allowable catch over a six- year period would have caused the job losses”.

The State is charging Gustavo for benefitting with N$ 22.5 million from the Fishrot scheme.

“On face value, it looks correct, it could be adjusted maybe up or down I’m not sure, but on face value it looks correct. I was never party to any money laundering scheme, nor was I ever involved with anyone to conspire to commit fraud. I endeavoured to keep correct records,”Gustavo tells Judge Herman Oosthuizen.

Gustavo, fighting tooth and nail for his release from custody, also pleads with the court to be under house arrest, while offering to pay for technological services, which would see him under house arrest. Gustavo boldly tells the court that he would be willing to give money to the Namibian police to procure the necessary technology, that he is willing to wear a GPS bracelet while under house arrest.

“The police would be able to trace me at any given chance. That type of technology is available and I am prepared to subject myself to this arrangement,” he says.

Gustavo initially offered to pay N$ 100 000, before Judge Oosthuizen questioned whether or not he could up the amount. He has since offered N$ 250000. The State’s cross examination continues tomorrow, with State Advocate Cliff Lutibezi. Trevor Brockerhoff represents Gustavo.