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Namibia arrests former justice minister in fishing scandal

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WINDHOEK (Reuters) – Namibia has arrested its former justice minister on suspicion of receiving kickbacks from Iceland’s biggest fishing firm in a scandal that has cast a shadow over the ruling party as it faces its toughest challenge to date in an election on Wednesday.

Anti-Corruption Commission Director General Paulus Noa confirmed on Wednesday that former minister Sakeus Shanghala and Investec Asset Management’s former Namibia chief, James Hatuikulipi, had been arrested. He declined further comment.

The arrests follow the detention of the former fisheries minister Bernhard Esau and another former Investec employee on Saturday on the same charges. Both were released a day later after a judge said the arrest warrants were invalid.

Namibians were voting on Wednesday in presidential and parliamentary elections that were seen as a stiff test for the ruling SWAPO party that has ruled the southern African country for three decades of independence.

The fishing scandal involves allegations the former ministers, who both quit this month when media reports of corruption surfaced, had taken bribes in return for awarding horse mackerel quotas to Iceland’s Samherji.

Samherji said previously that it had hired a law firm to investigate the allegations.

Esau has denied any wrongdoing. Reuters has not been able to reach Shanghala, Hatuikulipi or Ricardo Gustavo, the other former Investec employee accused, for comment.

South Africa’s Investec told Reuters last week that Gustavo and Hatuikulipi had left the bank and that it had no connection to the case. It said its former employees had not used their Investec positions to facilitate the alleged scheme in any way.

(Reporting by Nyasha Nyaungwa; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by David Clarke)

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