Fishrot accused asks for N$5,7m to pay lawyers

James Hatuikulipi

One of the men facing charges in the Fishrot fishing quotas fraud, corruption and racketeering case, James Hatuikulipi, is asking the High Court to order the release of nearly N$6 million from bank and investment accounts that have been frozen or placed under a property restraint order, so that he can pay his defence lawyers during his trial.

The services of a senior counsel representing him are costing N$55 000 a day, while his attorneys have to be paid N$50 000 a day for their work, Hatuikulipi says in an affidavit filed at the Windhoek High Court this month.

He also says it is at this stage difficult to estimate how long his trial would take, and that he is concerned the amount he wants to be released from accounts placed under a Prevention of Organised Crime Act property restraint order or frozen by the Bank of Namibia’s Financial Intelligence Centre would not cover the full period of his trial and the preparation required for the trial.

Hatuikulipi is asking the court to direct Bank Windhoek, Standard Bank Namibia, Nedbank Namibia and investment company Pointbreak Wealth Management to transfer amounts from accounts in his name and the name of the Cambadara Trust, of which he is a trustee, to the trust account of the law firm Murorua Kurtz Kasper Inc, which is representing him.

Hatuikulipi wants to have a total amount of N$5,75 million transferred to the law firm’s account.

This includes N$4,67 million held in the name of the Cambadara Trust in an account at Pointbreak Wealth Management, and N$620 000, N$310 000 and N$100 000 in three bank accounts of Hatuikulipi.
In his affidavit, Hatuikulipi says all of his assets and the assets of the Cambadara Trust have been restrained under an order given by a High Court judge in November 2020.

He is asking the court to order, in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, the release of funds from his restrained assets to pay for his legal expenses in the pending trial in which he and the Cambadara Trust, which he is also representing, are among 28 accused charged in connection with the alleged unlawful use of Namibian fishing quotas.

Hatuikulipi’s cousin Tamson Hatuikulipi, who is also one of his a co-accused in the Fishrot case, is a trustee of the Cambadara Trust as well.

In an affidavit also filed at the court, he says he supports Hatuikulipi’s application to have funds released to pay his lawyers.

One of the lawyers who have been representing Hatuikulipi, Lucius Murorua, told acting judge Moses Chinhengo, who is due to preside over the Fishrot trial, during a pretrial hearing last week that Hatuikulipi’s lawyers need to be paid before they will have consultations with him to prepare for his trial.

Murorua indicated that he estimated the lawyers would need six weeks to prepare for the trial after the funding of their clients’ legal representation has been sorted out, and that the trial should then be able to begin by June next year.

Chinhengo, however, said he wants the trial – which had been scheduled to start on 2 October this year – to get going, and postponed the matter to Tuesday next week for the accused to give their pleas to the charges they are facing.

In Hatuikulipi’s application for the release of funds, a lawyer representing prosecutor general Martha Imalwa, who is cited as the first respondent in the case, on Monday filed a notice that the prosecutor general would be opposing the application.

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