Icelandic fishing giant Samherji is defending itself against allegations of corruption within its Nambian operations by publishing the results of an in-depth analysis of the financial accounts of the companies in question.

The move follows the serious allegations made against the company last year, which became know as the "Fishrot" scandal after a whistleblower alleged wrongdoing and thousands of documents related to the company's Namibian operations were uploaded onto Wikileaks.

Last week, Samherji announced the investigation into the company's operations in Namibia, conducted by Norwegian law firm Wikborg Rein, had been completed.

Now, the pro-forma consolidated financial statements of companies affiliated with Samherji in Namibia for the years 2012-2018 have also been finalized.

The results show that the revenues from Samherji's subsidiaries in Namibia in the period 2012-2018 amounted to the equivalent of ISK 41.1 billion (€256.5 million/$303.5 million), and operating expenses were ISK 38.9 billion (€242.8 million/$287.3 million).

Net loss for the period amounted to ISK 950 million (€5.9 million/$7 million).

When all operating expenses in Namibia were broken down, the figures showed 55 percent was paid to Namibian parties or ISK 21.4 billion (€133.6 million/$158 million) at today's exchange rate.

"Samherji believes that this shows that one of the most serious allegations made against the company, about exploitation in Namibia, is not rooted in facts," it said.

"The most significant part of operating expenses during the period was salaries, payments to Namibian partners and quota fees to the Namibian government."

Allegations 'grossly misleading'

Payments to joint ventures owned by Namibians, the Namibian government and other quota holders made up 29.3 percent of total revenues, and these payments amounted to a total of ISK 12 billion (€74.9 million/$88.6 million).

Quota fees and salaries during the period were 51 percent of domestic operating expenses. The most substantial part of operating costs outside Namibia was due to salaries paid to crew members, fuel and charter and maintenance fees for vessels.

"The results show that the allegations that Samherji walked away from Namibia with large profits are grossly misleading," said Bjorgolfur Johannsson, co-CEO of Samherji.

"Serious accusations about exploitation in Namibia deeply affected our management. We sincerely hope that the disclosure of this information will lead to factually accurate and fair reporting about the operations."

Money lost

Samherji has strongly claimed that its subsidiaries fulfill their obligations regarding the payment of salaries, taxes and fees.

The same applies to agreements with Namibian partners, including joint ventures. Disputes with the company's joint ventures were resolved before the Namibian courts, and their claims against Samherji were rejected, the company noted.

In addition, companies within the Samherji group have had to lend working capital to subsidiaries in Namibia, and a substantial portion of the loans has not been repaid.

All operations in Namibia were discontinued at the end of 2019, and the subsidiaries are under closure.

The companies have not been liquidated, but it is anticipated that a significant part of the loans will not be recovered.