New curators to administer seized Fishrot assets

COURT TALK … Pius Mwatelulo, Sacky Shanghala and James Hatuikulipi (from left) in discussion with one of their lawyers, Lucius Murorua, in the Windhoek High Court at the end of January.

Two directors of a Namibian accounting firm are due to be appointed as the new curators to administer the assets of accused in the Fishrot fishing quotas fraud and corruption case placed under a restraint order in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

This is after judge Orben Sibeya ordered in the Windhoek High Court yesterday that Harald Hecht and Pierre Knoetze, who are directors of the accounting firm PKF Financial Consulting Services, should be appointed as curators to take over the administration of assets of the Fishrot accused that were first placed under a Prevention of Organised Crime Act restraint order in November 2020.

Sibeya also ordered that the appointment of curators David Bruni and Ian McLaren would be terminated once the master of the High Court has issued the new curators letters of appointment.

Bruni and McLaren were appointed as curators over the seized assets of six of the men charged in the Fishrot case – former Cabinet ministers Bernhard Esau and Sacky Shanghala, and James Hatuikulipi, Tamson Hatuikulipi, Ricardo Gustavo and Pius Mwatelulo – and also 16 corporate entities and trusts controlled by them, as well as assets of Esau’s wife, Swamma Esau, and his daughter, Ndapandula Hatuikulipi, who is married to Tamson Hatuikulipi, in December 2020.

Bruni and McLaren notified the court in August 2022 that they would apply to have their appointment as curators terminated.

They informed the court that their management of the assets placed under their control was “marred with frustration”, which made effective management difficult, and that they did not have the capacity to continue to manage the assets.

Prosecutor general Martha Imalwa proposed in January this year that two South African curators, Johan Engelbrecht and Coenraad Stander, who have experience as curators in several cases relating to South Africa’s Prevention of Organised Crime Act, should be appointed to take over from Bruni and McLaren.

Sibeya refused Imalwa’s application for the appointment of Engelbrecht and Stander yesterday, though.

Shanghala, James Hatuikulipi and Mwatelulo opposed the appointment of Engelbrecht and Stander, who are based in Pretoria, and asked the court to appoint Hecht and Knoetze as curators instead.

In an affidavit filed at the court, Hatuikulipi said the appointment of curators based in South Africa would increase the costs of the administration of the restrained assets.

He also said the curators’ tasks would be performed more effectively, quicker and more painlessly by persons associated with a Namibian firm like PKF Financial Consulting Services.

The interim property restraint order granted in November 2020 was confirmed by Sibeya in May last year – a step which means the order will remain in place until the pending criminal trial of the accused in the Fishrot case has been concluded in the Windhoek High Court.

If the accused are convicted at the end of their trial, the court may order the confiscation of the property under restraint.

The restrained assets include bank and investment accounts, interests in companies and close corporations, immovable properties, nearly 60 motor vehicles, firearms, jewellery and several luxury watches.

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