Hatuikulipi says Dubai bank accounts are empty, closed

James Hatuikulipi

One of the key figures in the Fishrot fishing quotas fraud, corruption and racketeering case, James Hatuikulipi, says there are no funds in two bank accounts in Dubai into which more than US$4 million allegedly derived from the sale of unlawfully obtained Namibian fishing quotas was paid.

Hatuikulipi says this in a sworn statement filed at the Windhoek High Court in an application in which he is asking the court to order the release of N$5,75 million from bank and investment accounts placed under a property restraint order in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

According to Hatuikulipi, he needs the N$5,75 million to pay his legal expenses in the pending criminal case in which he and nine other persons are due to be prosecuted on charges based on allegations that they unlawfully received Namibian fishing quotas that were later sold to the Icelandic-owned fishing company group, Samherji.

Prosecutor general Martha Imalwa, who is opposing Hatuikulipi’s application for the release of funds from his restrained assets, accused him in an affidavit filed in January of failing to disclose to the court the whereabouts of US$4,1 million – then the equivalent of N$61,8 million – paid into two bank accounts of his company Tundavala Invest in Dubai.

Imalwa alleged that Hatuikulipi failed to make a full disclosure of his assets and liabilities to the court, and said such a disclosure is a precondition before the court may order the release of funds to pay his legal costs.

In his affidavit, Hatuikulipi says the bank accounts in Dubai that Imalwa referred to were closed before his arrest near the end of November 2019.

“There are no funds in these accounts,” he also said.

The Namibian reported in February 2022 that the Bank of Namibia’s Financial Intelligence Centre established that the money in the two Dubai bank accounts had been withdrawn and the accounts were found to be empty.

Imalwa also alleged in her affidavit that Hatuikulipi failed to disclose to the court that he has a tax liability of N$19,4 million in his personal capacity, while a trust of which he is a trustee, Cambadara Trust, has a tax liability of N$33,6 million. Both tax liabilities date from the period 2014 to 2019.

During the hearing of oral arguments on Hatuikulipi’s application for the release of funds yesterday, senior counsel Vas Soni, who represented Hatuikulipi, argued that the alleged tax liabilities arise from a claim that Hatuikulipi and Cambadara Trust did not pay tax on the benefits they allegedly derived from the crimes they are accused of.

Hatuikulipi is denying guilt on the charges he is facing and also disputes that he owes the alleged amount in unpaid tax, Soni said.

Soni argued that Hatuikulipi has disclosed his assets and liabilities to the court as required by the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

Soni also said he accepted that, if the court finds the required disclosure has not been made, it does not have a discretion to still order the release of funds from the accounts of Hatuikulipi and Cambadara Trust that are under a property restraint order.

On behalf of the prosecutor general, Mariette Boonzaier argued that Hatuikulipi did not make a full disclosure of his assets and liabilities to the court.

Without a full disclosure, the court is not in a position to consider the full picture of his financial position, to decide whether to order the release of funds for his legal expenses, Boonzaier added.

Judge Claudia Claasen, who heard the arguments, reserved her judgement and postponed the delivery of the judgement to 9 August.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News