On 12 November 2019 and 26 November 2019 WikiLeaks published batches of tens of thousands of documents it obtained from Mr. Jóhannes Stefánsson, a whistleblower within SAMHERJI, a multinational fishing company based in Iceland. They expose corrupt schemes by the company in Namibia to gain access to rich fishing grounds off the African country’s shores.
Mr. Stefánsson is the former Managing Director of SAMHERJI´s operations in Namibia. He has decided to come forward as a whistleblower and testify about the activities of the company. He is also cooperating with anti-corruption authorities and police in Namibia, who have been investigating the case for more than a year.
Mr. Stefánsson needs to prepare for his defense, and legal costs have already begun to pile up. Donate below to support this brave whistleblower and stand up for his right to keep you informed about extensive corruption, and your right to know.
The documents are dated from 2010 to 2016, the period during which the company gained its foothold in Namibia. SAMHERJI has now become the biggest single recipient of fishing quotas in the country. The documents (which include agreements, e-mails, internal reports, spreadsheets, presentations and photos) expose how the company spent millions of dollars in pay-offs to senior Namibian officials and politicians in order to ensure growing and continued access to the country’s resources.
It also exposes that lofty promises by SAMHERJI, to build infrastructure in the country and create jobs, were never fulfilled. On the contrary, the company used its international corporate structure to transfer proceeds from the operations straight out of the country. This was done through intermediaries it controls in Cyprus and in the tax-haven of Mauritius.
Today’s released files also demonstrate how these same tools were used to transfer funds to a secret account, set up by SAMHERJI in Dubai, for the sole purpose of transferring kick-backs to the corrupt entities in Namibia.
WikiLeaks releases documents pertaining to the Fishrot case that have come to light as a result of investigation into bribes, money laundering and tax evasion. These investigations have been launched by several institutions across Norway, Iceland and Namibia as a result of WikiLeaks’ Fishrot publication earlier this month.
The first document details internal exchanges between staff at DNB, Norway’s largest bank, from April 2018 to 2019, discussing how to respond to AML flagging (anti-money laundering) from Bank of New York Mellon. Specifically it relates to payments from the international fishing company Samherji to JPC Ship Management (Cyprus), a crew management company supplying services to Samherji.
The second document outlines how DNB (the Norwegian bank) carried out a detailed assessment in 2017 of JPC Ship Management in accordance with KYC principles (Know Your Customer) and did not seem to find anything wrong, despite being classified as a high-risk customer. Another company associated with Samherji financial transactions, Cape Cod FS (Marshall Islands), however was evaluated using the very same principles and its accounts were closed as the bank could not determine who the owner was.
The third document shows how DNB finally decided to terminate its accounts with JPC Ship Management only after receiving AML flagging from Bank of New York Mellon:
“Conclusion: The client is not in need of Norwegian account or within LCI strategy. The client does not have AML Policy and there is considerable risk related to transactions to Russia and Ukraine. The necessary resources to manage the sanction risk will be too high and the client has already disrespected instruction regarding resend once. Our recommendation is offboarding the client. “
Fishrot Files – Part 3 will be released soon with the addition to the searchable database.