For the past months, two reporters from news network Al-Jazeera have had meetings with Namibia's minister of fisheries, claiming to be foreign investors interested in sea freezing quotas.
The minister soon said he was ready to help the "investors" and get them cheap quotas in exchange for payment, even offering tax evasion tips. The minister wanted his payments to go through his lawyer, and emphasised secrecy.
Bernhard Esau had refused our interview requests twice when we met him in Oslo on October 22. More than 200 leaders and influential people from all over met in Oslo to discuss ways to protect marine ecosystems, the fight against corruption, and illegal fishing. Namibia's minister of fisheries was invited there to give a speech on the necessity of transparency in the field.
The minister offered Kveikur and Al Jazeera an interview later that same day. He claimed that neither he nor his lawyer had made any promises to the "investors" in exchange for the payment in question, which he now claimed was meant as a contribution to SWAPO's election fund, and was not illegal.
He strenuously denied any connection or assistance with Samherji and said the affairs of his son-in-law and Fishcor's chairman were none of his business. He denied having practiced or recommended tax fraud or tax evasion.
“I am incorruptible, honestly, if I was corruptible, I could have been very rich.”