Iceland : Samherji hit by storm of bribery allegations
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Thread: Iceland : Samherji hit by storm of bribery allegations

  1. #1
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    Default Iceland : Samherji hit by storm of bribery allegations

    https://fiskerforum.com/samherji-hit...y-allegations/


    Icelandic fisheries group Samherji is accused of extensive bribery to secure fishing rights in African waters. Image: Mackenzie Marco

    Icelandic fisheries group Samherji has been on the receiving end of extensive allegations of paying significant bribes to government figures and others as it sought to secure fishing rights in Namibia, and of using a Norwegian bank as a conduit to placing profits in a tax haven.

    An investigation by journalists at Stundin, Icelandic state broadcaster RÚV’s Kveikur programme and Al Jazeera, working with Wikileaks, has resulted in detailing of an alleged $10 million in bribes paid between 2012 and 2018 to a number of individuals in Namibia, including fisheries minister Bernhard Esau and people close to him, as well as individuals at state-owned company FishCor, which allocates quotas.

    The intention was to secure access to horse mackerel quotas. Bribery – or paying ‘facilitation payments’ – is a crime that in Iceland carries a penalty of a five-year prison term, and the Stundin/Kveikur team claim that as the source of revenue was secured by bribery, the revenue from these fishing operation in African waters can be described as money laundering.


    Samherji’s principal owners are Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson and Kristján Vilhelmsson. Image: Samherji

    According to the investigation, the bribery carried out in Namibia links to more than $70 million that Samherji is alleged to have moved through a company in the Marshall Islands tax haven and an account at Norwegian bank DNB, which the bank subsequently closed as it was not able to verify the identity of the account’s beneficial owners.

    At the centre of the storm is Samherji’s former general manager in Namibia, Jóhannes Stefánsson, who is now in the position of being a whistleblower and is working with anti-corruption officials in Namibia.

    He has stated that payments were made only with the express consent of Samherji CEO Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson.

    Samherji has responded by stating that Jóhannes Stefánsson was fired from his position in Namibia in 2016 for mismanagement and unacceptable behaviour.

    ‘We were very disappointed to learn that Jóhannes Stefánsson, a former managing director of Samherji’s operations in Namibia, appears to have been involved in questionable business practices and possibly entangled Samherji in activities that may be illegal,’ Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson stated.

    ‘Until recently, we had no knowledge of the scope and nature of Jóhannes Stefánsson’s business practices and it is uncertain whether they really were the way he describes. As we have already reported, we have engaged the international law firm Wikborg Rein in Norway to investigate the activities in Namibia. In this investigation, nothing will be excluded and we will disclose its findings as soon as they become available.’

    The TV report aired last night has triggered a storm of controversy in Iceland, where Samherji is one of the largest fishing operators in the country with activities both in Iceland and overseas. In recent years Samherji has invested heavily in both fishing and processing capacity in Iceland with a number of new vessels and shore-based processing facilities.

    These latest allegations follow on the heels of a lengthy investigation by Iceland’s Central Bank into Samherji’s activities that was finally concluded with no evidence of wrongdoing, but which developed into a public feud between Samherji’s directors and the head of the Central Bank.

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    Fishrot Files - Part 1

    https://wikileaks.org/fishrot/

  3. #3
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    Samherji CEO steps aside in bribery scandal

    https://fiskerforum.com/samherji-ceo...ibery-scandal/


    The storm around the allegations made against Akureyri-based fishing company Samherji continues to rage. Image: Samherji

    The activities of fishing company Samherji in Namibia have continued to dominate headlines in Iceland and in Namibia, where there have already been resignations at government level.

    Namibia’s Fisheries Minister Bernhardt Esau and Justice Minister Sacky Shanghala, both implicated as being at the heart of the bribery scandal, resigned from their posts immediately, reportedly ahead of being sacked by President Hage Geingob.

    In Iceland the allegations have sparked widespread outrage, with pledges of a thorough investigation into the matter as a whole made by Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir.

    Fisheries Minister Kristján Thór Júlíusson has also found himself in the spotlight, due to his longstanding links with Samherji, not least as a former chairman of the Samherji board.


    SFS director Heiđrún Lind Mart*eins*dótt*ir. Image: SFS

    Fishing vessel owners’ federation SFS has released a statement setting out its position that it has always been SFS’s policy that members should operate within the law.

    ‘The same applies to whether these activities take place in Iceland or overseas’ stressed SFS director Heiđrún Lind Mart*eins*dótt*ir.

    ‘It is clear that a matter of this nature could have serious repercussions for the reputation of Icelandic fisheries as a whole. So it is crucial that this matter should be investigated and for the truth to be be made clear. This is in everyone’s interest, not least of those against whom these serious allegations have been made.’

    Samherji CEO Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson has agreed with the company’s board of directors to step aside for the duration of the investigation.

    His place is taken by former Icelandair President and ex-chair of SFS and the Icelandic Employers Association Björgólfur Jóhannsson, effective immediately. The company reports that its own internal investigation, which is assisted by international law firm Wikborg Rein will continue to report directly to the Board of Directors.

    ‘Samherji employs thousands of people globally. We take this serious step to ensure and demonstrate the complete integrity of the ongoing investigation. At Samherji we are committed to fair and honest business, and we will always strive to act in accordance with applicable laws and regulations,’ said Eirikur S Jóhannsson, Chair of the Samherji Board of Directors.

    According to a a statement from Samherji, the company has not so far been approached by the authorities, but pledges that it will co-operate with any relevant authorities that may take interest in Samherji’s activities in Iceland, in Namibia or elsewhere.

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