Angola opens case against ex-minister over Namibia fishing bribe scandal

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Angolan authorities have opened a criminal case against a former fishing minister for alleged involvement in a bribery scandal with Iceland’s biggest fishing company that has seen six arrests in neighbouring Namibia, state media reported on Wednesday.

Two former Namibian ministers and four others implicated in Namibia’s largest corruption scandal are awaiting trial. They are accused of conspiring with Iceland’s biggest fishing company Samherji to receive payments worth millions of dollars in exchange for fishing quotas.

The scheme, which was exposed by Wikileaks, began in 2014 and included relatives of the ministers and officials from Angola, according to documents it posted online. It used a bilateral deal between the two neighbouring nations in southwest Africa to enable Samherji to get quotas of tens of thousands of tonnes a year of horse mackerel, according to the documents.

State-owned Jornal de Angola said authorities had frozen the assets of ex-minister of fisheries Victoria de Barros Neto and opened a case against her, her husband and four children.

“If there are signs of criminal acts, in due course we will provide information about the judicial process,” state deputy prosecutor Alvaro da Silva Joao was quoted as saying.

Former justice minister Sakeus Shanghala and fisheries minister Bernardt Esau, along with two former employees of South Africa’s Investec, are among those awaiting trial in Namibia.

Norwegian police are meanwhile investigating DNB (DNB.OL), the country’s largest bank, after it too was named.

Samherji has denied wrongdoing, as have Esau and Shanghala. DNB said it was cooperating with the investigation.

Investec said last month that two former employees on trial had not used their Investec positions to facilitate the alleged scheme in any way.

Reporting by Tim Cocks, Editing by William Maclean

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