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Namibia: Namibia’s first lady denies allegations linked with Fishrot scandal

16 Apr 2020
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Namibia

First lady Monica Geingos says there are no unlawful transactions between her and the law firm Sisa Namandje & Co.

The law firm is being investigated by the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Financial Intelligence Centre and the Law Society of Namibia in connection with the Fishrot fishing quota corruption scandal.

The Namibian understands that, among others, the investigation looked into the link between Namandje's law firm bank account and the company Lemon Square Investments, of which Namandje is the main shareholder.

Geingos was a shareholder in Lemon Square from 2009 to March 2015. She sold her shares to Namandje when she became the first lady.

A source familiar with the Law Society investigations into Namandje's company said Geingos is not being investigated by the lawyers' association. Sources however said authorities looked at a N$2 million paid to the first lady in March 2015 from Namandje & Co's bank account.

“There are no transactions between Sisa Namandje Inc and I which are of an unlawful nature. It is unfortunate that entirely unrelated matters are being conflated to suit a particular narrative,” Geingos said in a response to The Namibian this week.

“We are all eager for the complete truth to emerge as nobody benefits from incomplete, selectively leaked information,” she added.

“Secondly, all of my financial interests, direct and indirect, have been publicly disclosed and I have not acquired any new business interests since my last declaration,” the first lady said.

Namandje is adamant that the Law Society is not following procedures, including the use of a financial intelligence report which he says includes privileged and confidential documents filed with the court.

Namandje is the first lady's personal lawyer.

LEMON JUICE

Lemon Square Investments held fishing rights for hake which should have expired last year.

As of March 2020, the owners of Lemon Square were: Namandje (50%), Erastus (Chicco) Shapumba (25%), prisons deputy commissioner general Anna-Rosa Katjivena (8%), the Erongo Community Development Trust (8,5%) and the
­­//Kharas Community Development Trust (8,5%).

The company's directors are Namandje, who replaced Geingos as public officer in 2015, Katjivena, Cynthia Martin, Sacky Kadhila Amoomo and Veiko Alexander.

Lemon Square Investments' company registration documents show that Geingos sold her 25% stake to Namandje on 10 March 2015.

The payment was made on 4 March 2015.

Court documents indicate the Law Society believed that Lemon Square had N$4,6 million in Sisa Namandje and Co's trust account on 16 September 2017.

Sources familiar with the investigation told The Namibian that authorities believe the N$2 million payment to Geingos in 2015 was for her shares in Lemon Square Investments.

'TRUTH AND FICTION'

Geingos said the insistence on targeting individuals through the media and anonymous social media accounts, accusing them of alleged “Fishrot” involvement, had blurred the lines between truth and fiction.

She said it had made many people, herself included, targets of gross levels of misinformation and had recently placed one of her children in a life-threatening situation.

“I am afraid that by responding I will be participating in what appears to be the violation of the rights of the many clients of Sisa Namandje Inc who were named in the Law Society affidavit and who, since the affidavit has been circulated, have been subjected to untrue and unsavoury conjecture,” Geingos added.

“I also do not wish to respond to questions and thereby normalise the leaking, by your account, of confidential information by investigating authorities which is against their governing legislation and raises serious questions around due process.”

She said the information leakage concerned her and thus placed her in the difficult position of wanting to clear her name and only being able to do so through the appropriate investigating authorities.

Geingos said she would provide a second, and updated, disclosure of interest within the course of this year. Her first disclosure was in 2015.

MAIN SQUEEZE

The core focus of the authorities are unexplained transactions between Namandje's trust account and two companies linked to the Fishrot saga.

It involves payments related to the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) and an Icelandic-controlled company, Mermaria Seafood Namibia in 2017.

Court documents seen by The Namibian indicate the authorities believe a reference to “direct deposit – Lemon” made in the Namandje trust account's books refers to Lemon Square Investments, sometimes also referred to as Lemon Square Fishing.

The Namibian could however not independently verify that the Law Society's assumption to the Lemon reference is accurate.

At least two of the transactions involving money flowing from Fishcor and Mermaria Seafood Namibia into the Namandje trust account were referenced as “direct deposit – Lemon” in court papers.

One was for N$2,5 million that Fishcor paid into Namandje's trust account on 4 August 2017. The second payment was N$5 million made by Mermaria Seafood Namibia on 28 August 2017.

Sources well versed with the investigations told The Namibian that the two transactions have not been explained nor has their link to Lemon Square Investments. Namandje has previously indicated to The Namibian that he will explain the nature of the payments to the ACC.

He has since last year denied any wrongdoing in those transactions.

Namandje declined to comment on details of this investigation last week.

He said: “The allegations you want us to comment on are a subject of investigation of ACC with whom we are cooperating. We are further currently preparing a comprehensive statement under oath to it [ACC] as agreed with it setting out our legitimate involvement in clients' transactions concerned and adequately demonstrating that we were not involved in any criminal activities”.

The Law Society of Namibia is seeking a search and seizure warrant to allow it to inspect the records of the law firm Sisa Namandje & Co Inc in connection with the Fishrot scandal.

Source : Namibian