Wikileaks documents released as part of the ongoing investigation into Icelandic giant Samherji's cash-for-quotas scandal show a transfer of NOK 50 million (€4.9 million/$5.4 million) to the company controlling Norwegian seafood company Nergard, reports IntraFish sister publication Fiskeribladet.

The transfer to Nergard Invest Samherji, which owns 39.9 percent of Nergard, came from Esja Seafood Limited, one of Samherji's key holding companies, which is registered in Cyprus.

Esja held bank accounts with DNB, from which it made payments listed as "consultancy fees." These payments are now under investigation.

Samherji spokesperson Margret Olafsdottir said the NOK 50 million that went between Nergard Invest Samherji AS and Esja relates to a repayment of a loan agreement that was signed between the companies in 2017, when Nergard Invest Samherji was established.

Okokrim investigation

What is Okokrim?

Okokrim, established in 1989, is both a police specialist agency and a public prosecutors’ office with national authority.

It is organised into multidisciplinary teams, each team holding prime responsibility for a specific area. Most of the teams are tasked with investigating and prosecuting their own criminal cases.

Teams are composed of special investigators, some of whom have law enforcement experience, while others have financial and environmental experience. Most of the teams are headed by a senior public prosecutor, and include a police prosecutor.

The Samherji scandal has drawn in Icelandic, Namibian and Norwegian companies. Norway's Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime, Okokrim, has initiated an investigation of DNB in ​​connection with the Samherji case. The bank is cooperating with Okokrim.

"We cannot exclude that our own investigations will identify points for improvement in the bank's work," a spokesperson for DNB said.

"At the same time, it is important to remember that it is not a Norwegian bank accused of corruption or money laundering, but an Icelandic fishing company."

The case is the largest of its kind ever involving a Norwegian bank.

Money funneled through DNB

Icelandic newspaper Stundin reported on Nov. 19 that $70 million, or NOK 640 million at today's rate, was funneled through DNB via a shell company in a tax haven on the Marshall Islands to Namibia.

It remains unclear how much of the money can be linked to allegations of possible money laundering and potential bribes.

Part of the money is alleged to have come from Samherji's horse mackerel fishing in Namibia, leading to accusations the company bribed officials to secure access to quotas.

Information relating to alleged bribes and money laundering is contained in Wikileaks documents.

The database also shows that money has gone from DNB accounts in Cyprus to a company in Dubai, owned by a high-ranking official in Namibia, James Hatuikulipi, who was responsible for the allocation of fishing quotas in the country.

Hatuikulipi resigned from his post as managing director of South Africa-based Investec Asset Management in mid-November.

Hatuikulipi's right-hand man and Client Director Ricardo Gustavo was also forced to temporarily step down as internal investigations take place.

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