The Law Firm hired by fishing company Samherji to investigate the company’s alleged criminal activities in Namibia is the same one that is employed to protect Samherji’s financial interests in the country, Vísir reports. One of Iceland’s largest fishing companies, Samherji is alleged to have paid high-ranking officials in Namibia more than ISK 1 billion ($8.1m/€7.3m) since 2012 to ensure access to horse-mackerel fishing quotas in the country. Namibia’s Minister of Fisheries and Minister of Justice are currently in custody in connection with the case.
Hired before Fishrot Files were public
In anticipation of the publication of the so-called Fishrot Files, Samherji announced that Norwegian company Wikborg Rein would conduct a thorough investigation of the company’s operations in Africa. After the files were made public, the company’s CEO Þorsteinn Már Baldvinsson stepped down, in part to allow Wikborg Rein to look into the matter.
The hiring of Wikborg Rein, which was already working for Samherji’s interests, was widely criticised, with many believing the company would do none other than turn in a report that showed Samherji in the best possible light. The law firm has previously defended Samherji’s interests in a case involving the detention of their ship Heinaste in Namibia, accused of illegal fishing.
Authorities rule independently
Wikborg Rein sent a detailed response to Vísir following an inquiry from the news agency, where the firm states that although such internal investigations are common, Wikborg Rein does not expect authorities or prosecutors to base their decisions in the Samherji case solely on the firm’s findings.
“So to be clear; Wikborg Rein is not conducting an external investigation following which we will produce a report that will be made public in its entirety,” the response reads in part. “We are assisting the company in investigating the matter and providing relevant authorities with the results of such fact-finding. The conclusion on whether any wrongdoing was made, and the consequences thereof, will eventually need to be made by relevant authorities.”