High Court Judge Shafimana Ueitele in his judgement today denied bail to six men accused in the Fishrot fraud and corruption case, stating that the accused did not provide sufficient evidence to be granted bail.
Sacky Shanghala, Mike Nghipunya, Pius Mwatelulo, James Hatuikulipi, Otneel Shuudifonya and Phillipus Mwapopi are the six whose bail application was unsuccessful.
They are charged with racketeering, violating the Anti-Corruption Act, conspiracy, corruptly using an office to receive gratification, fraud, theft, and money laundering, as well as defeating or obstructing the course of justice.
The six men, along with four others, are accused of misappropriating or profiting N$317 million from shady fishing deals, involving Fishcor and an Icelandic fishing company, Samherji.
According to Ueitele, the applicants failed to demonstrate that their continued detention violates their constitutional rights, because they relied on secondary grounds of violation of their rights.
He asserts that their arrests were legal and that they cannot flee, but he is concerned that they will interfere with witnesses. Furthermore, he stated that their medical and personal situations are not unusual or novel.
The applicants’ allegations against the Anti-Corruption Commission’s conduct during their arrests are not well placed before the court and are irrelevant to be considered as grounds for bail, Ueitele stated.
Former Fishcor Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Nghipunya, stated in his bail application that the State does not and will never have a strong case against him, adding that the Deloitte audit report shows that there is no missing or unaccounted for money at Fishcor.
Former Justice Minister Sacky Shanghala claimed in his affidavit that a number of Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) investigations relating to the Prevention of Organized Crime Act (POCA) against him are unlawful, adding that the ACC is not authorized to launch such investigations against him.
State Prosecutor Cliff Lutibezi had objected to bail being granted because of the serious nature of the offenses involving a criminal syndicate, the strong case against the suspects, the risk of escaping with the exception of Nghipunya, the fear of interfering with investigations, public interest, and the administration of justice.
Investigator Andreas Kanyangela of the Anti-Corruption Commission testified in January that an income tax notice belonging to Hatuikulipi indicated that he owed the finance ministry N$403 624 in 2014, N$4 951 266 in 2015, N$7 291 957 in 2016, N$4 236 000 and N$4 591 174 in 2018, totaling N$21 473 921.
Kanyangela also revealed that Shanghala owed the finance ministry N$2 101 223 between 2014 and 2019.
Wanyemba Investments Trust, a company owned by Nghipunya and other co-accused Shuudifonya, is said to owe the taxman N$12 531 294 from 2018 to 2020.
Tuafika Logistics, a company owned by Pius Mwatelulo, owes the finance ministry N$2 702 489 from 2014 to 2018, according to Kanyagela.
Shuudifonya owes the N$674 234 in taxes to the Treasury.
The suspects were represented in the bail application by Milton Egelbrect, Lucious Murorua, and Thabang Phatela.