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Samherji whistle-blower awarded in Sweden

21.04.2021 - 13:35
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 Mynd: Stefán Drengsson - RÚV
Jóhannes Stefánsson, the former employee of Samherji in Namibia turned whistle-blower, has been named as the winner of Gothenburg city’s WIN WIN sustainability award. The theme of the award in 2021 is the fight against corruption.

The jury’s supporting notes state: 

“Between 2011 and 2016, Jóhannes Stefánsson held a management position with the Icelandic fisheries company Samherji. After some time, it became clear to Jóhannes that the company was engaged in corruption in connection to a fishing quota in Namibia. With thousands of pieces of evidence on his computer, he resigned from his job in protest. In 2019, WikiLeaks published the start of “The Fishrot Files”; a revelation that shook business leaders and the political élite. Though Jóhannes was harassed, threatened, and poisoned, he proved that an individual can fight against corruption in the business world.”  

Action over assassination claims 

Jóhannes has claimed he was the victim of attempted assassination in Cape Town in early 2017 and that his employer was fully aware. He has since started fundraising because of the cost associated with poor health following the poisoning. 

Þorsteinn Már Baldvinsson, the director of Samherji, reported Jóhannes to the Icelandic police this March, claiming libel. Claims that Þorsteinn and Samherji were connected to any possible assassination attempt or other illegal threats were wrong and required rebuke, he said at the time. 

The WIN WIN prize is worth one million Swedish kronor (or roughly 15 million Icelandic krónur) and will be awarded in October. The prize has been awarded annually in Gothenburg since 2000. 

Other nominees this year were Nicola Gratteri, the Italian prosecutor behind charges against 350 people connected to the Ndrangheta criminal organisation in southern Italy; Hamzat Lawal, the Nigerian activist behind the organisations Connected Development and Follow the Money, which fight corruption in public finances in Nigeria; and the NGOs Integrity Watch, from Afghanistan, and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.  

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