Namibia: Fishrot accused asks for millions to pay lawyers

FORMER Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Bernhard Esau, his son-in-law Tamson Hatuikulipi and one of their co-defendants in the Fishrot fishing quota fraud and corruption case, Ricardo Gustavo, say they are in urgent need millions of dollars to pay their lawyers.

The three men are asking the High Court to give them access to some of their assets, which they say they need to pay their lawyers for the work done over the past year and to cover the expected costs of their legal representation during the their possible trial in the High Court of Windhoek.

In court documents, Esau and Hatuikulipi say they must jointly pay around N $ 856,000 to the Metcalfe Beukes Attorneys law firm, which represents them, for past work in order to avoid losing their legal representation.

Each of them further says that they need N $ 1.5 million to cover their legal expenses for their ongoing criminal trial and legal proceedings under the Prevention of Organized Crime Act.

Gustavo informed the court that he owed his lawyer, Trevor Brockerhoff, around N $ 1.3 million on October 21 – before his bail hearing took place last week – and also expects that that he needs an additional N $ 1.5 million for future legal proceedings. expenses in cases where it is involved.

The attorney general has said she opposes the three men’s request for permission to withdraw funds from their assets, which are the subject of an interim freezing order under the Crime Prevention Act. organized since November of last year.

The law contains a provision that the High Court may authorize payment from frozen property for reasonable legal and living expenses of the person whose assets have been placed under a restraint order.

Hatuikulipi says all of his assets, which he says have a combined value of around N $ 53 million, have been placed under the control of two conservatives following the freeze order issued by High Court Judge Orben Sibeya on November 13 of last year.

He also says he has liabilities amounting to around N $ 10 million, leaving the net worth of his assets at around N $ 43 million. Its assets include 21 fixed properties, located in Windhoek and Swakopmund, Langstrand, Ondangwa, Ongwediva, Gobabis and Eenhana, half shares in seven sectional title units in Swakopmund, bank accounts with undisclosed balances and 2.8 million of Namibian dollars in a trust account at another law firm, Hatuikulipi informed the court.

According to an inventory he provided to the court, Hatuikulipi’s assets under control further include 11 motor vehicles, two buses and three trucks. Among its cars are a Mecedes-Benz R231 roadster, worth N $ 2.9 million, and a Mercedes-Benz W213, worth N $ 2.2 million.

According to Esau, its assets include the Dakota farm in the Gobabis district, a building in Hochland Park, Windhoek, five motor vehicles and six bank accounts with undisclosed balances. He says that on his farm he has around 170 head of cattle, 190 sheep and around 180 goats.

Gustavo informed the court that he would only be able to pay his legal fees if he was allowed to raise funds on some of his controlled assets.

Its assets include two properties in the premium and exclusive Finkenstein estate east of Windhoek, five motor vehicles and undisclosed sums of money in five bank accounts.

In the indictment in which the state sets out the criminal charges for which the Fishrot defendants are to be prosecuted, it is alleged that Hatuikulipi derived financial benefits totaling approximately NND 57.6 million from his involvement in the corrupt allocation and use of Namibian fishing quotas. to which Icelandic-owned companies have had access.

The state alleges that Gustavo’s financial benefit from his involvement in the case amounts to at least N $ 22.4 million.

Esau has received traceable financial benefits of nearly NN $ 5.5 million from his alleged role in the case, according to the state as well.

The attorney general had until January 18 to file an affidavit in response to Esau and Hatuikulipi’s petition.

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Bernice Dyer

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