Judge throws out Namibian mackerel firms’ case against Samherji group

Namibia’s high court has thrown out the case brought against companies within Icelandic firm Samherji’s group, the firm has told Undercurrent News.

Earlier in July, the Namibian reported that Namibia’s Esja Holding was being sued by Sinco Fishing and Epango Fishing over plans to sell a jointly-owned NAD 400 million (now around $20m) fishing vessel, and wind up joint venture Arcticnam (originally named Esja Fishing).

(Samherji was in touch with Undercurrent to say the original article published by the Namibian was “both one-sided and wrong in all almost all aspects”. “The allegations made by the applicants are in our view both false and unsubstantiated.”)

The Icelandic firm has now told Undercurrent that on July 31, the high court of Namibia heard the case.

“After about an hour the judge obviously felt he had heard enough and dismissed all the claims and awarded our side costs. The court was permitted to take two days for consideration, but decided immediately to dismiss the claims.”

According to the Namibian, Arcticnam was formed in 2015 between the Namibian pair, Esja — a Namibian firm owned by Samherji — and a third quota holder.

The partnership then borrowed a loan of NAD 400m to buy the horse mackerel vessel Heinaste, via the company Heinaste Investments (owned by Esja).

Their agreement, said Samherji, was due to expire on Dec. 31, 2018. Before this, in 2017, the vessel was bought out by another company, itself a joint venture.

“After Dec. 31, 2018, the quota holders did not bring their quota to either the vessel owning company or the company that was established to catch their quota,” Samherji told Undercurrent. “Therefore, there was no basis for further cooperation and it was only natural to sell the vessel.”

Esja called for a shareholders’ meeting to sell the vessel, prompting two of the three quota holders involved to apply to the courts to stop the process, “based on various unfounded and malicious allegations towards Esja”, Samherji said.

According to an affidavit filed by Sharon Neumbo, chairperson of the Sinco board of directors: “As far as the applicants knew, the joint venture was operational, the vessel being used to catch the Namibian partners’ quotas and loan taken to purchase the vessel was being repaid as agreed upon.”

Samherji now expects the shareholders’ meeting over the vessel sale to go ahead as planned.


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