Thorsteinn Mar Baldvinsson, CEO of Icelandic fishing giant Samherji, was forced to step aside from his position Thursday while internal investigations over the company's alleged wrongdoings in Namibia are underway.
“Samherji employs thousands of people globally so we take this serious step to ensure and demonstrate the complete integrity of the ongoing investigation," Samherji Chairman Eirikur Johannsson said in the statement.
The company has been distancing itself from its former managing director in Namibia, Johannes Stefansson, after he made serious bribery allegations against the company.
Stefansson, now a whistleblower working with Nambian anti-corruption authorities, implemented bribe payments on the authorization of Mar Baldvinsson, and biggest shareholder, according to allegations reported by the website of Icelandic bi-weekly newspaper Stundin.
Former CEO of Icelandic Group Bjorgolfur Johannsson will act as Samherji's CEO effective immediately, until the internal investigation lead by the Norwegian law firm Wikborg Rein is complete. He plans to meet with employees and key stakeholders over the next few days.
Johannsson formerly held executive positions in travel firm Icelandair Group, Fisheries Iceland, and Icelandic Employers Association.
The export promotional trade body (Íslandsstofa) confirmed Johannsson temporarily stepped down from his position as chairman.
The company declined further comments on the situation until the investigations are over.