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Fishing boss steps down from UK firms amid bribery probe and Namibia ministers scandal

Christian Fernsby ▼ | November 30, 2019
A director of two of the UK’s biggest fishing companies has resigned after becoming embroiled in an explosive corruption scandal in Namibia.
Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson
British business   Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson
Documents by Companies House show that Icelandic executive Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson’s directorships of UK Fisheries Limited and Onward Fishing Company Limited were terminated on 20 November.

Topics: Fishing bribery Namibia UK

Until two weeks ago, Mr Baldvinsson was chief executive of the giant Icelandic fishing multinational Samherji, which owns Onward and its stake in UK Fisheries.

He was forced to step down from that role “pending internal investigation” after the Icelandic media revealed serious allegations from a whistleblower about Samherji’s alleged wrongdoing in Namibia, west Africa.

Icelandic journalists reported earlier this month that the company had allegedly paid bribes of around US$10m between 2012 and 2018 to secure access to Namibian fishing quotas, and transferred proceeds from the catches to a shell company in the Marshall Islands.

The reports, which have also led to the resignations of Namibia’s fisheries minister and justice minister, are based on a huge cache of internal Samherji documents released via Wikileaks and on the allegations of Samherji’s former Namibia general manager Johannes Stefansson.

Stefansson is quoted in Icelandic and international media as saying: “Samherji does whatever it takes to get its hands on the natural resources of other nations.

“The company deceives and makes empty promises all in order to exploit these resources.

“They do not hesitate to use bribes and break the law so that they can take as much money as they can out of the country and leave nothing behind but burnt soil and money in the pockets of a corrupt political elite.”