Samherji CEO steps aside in bribery scandal
The storm around the allegations made against Akureyri-based fishing company Samherji continues to rage. Image: Samherji

Samherji CEO steps aside in bribery scandal

The activities of fishing company Samherji in Namibia have continued to dominate headlines in Iceland and in Namibia, where there have already been resignations at government level.

Namibia’s Fisheries Minister Bernhardt Esau and Justice Minister Sacky Shanghala, both implicated as being at the heart of the bribery scandal, resigned from their posts immediately, reportedly ahead of being sacked by President Hage Geingob.

In Iceland the allegations have sparked widespread outrage, with pledges of a thorough investigation into the matter as a whole made by Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir.

Fisheries Minister Kristján Thór Júlíusson has also found himself in the spotlight, due to his longstanding links with Samherji, not least as a former chairman of the Samherji board.

SFS director Heiðrún Lind Mart­eins­dótt­ir. Image: SFS

Fishing vessel owners’ federation SFS has released a statement setting out its position that it has always been SFS’s policy that members should operate within the law.

‘The same applies to whether these activities take place in Iceland or overseas’ stressed SFS director Heiðrún Lind Mart­eins­dótt­ir.

‘It is clear that a matter of this nature could have serious repercussions for the reputation of Icelandic fisheries as a whole. So it is crucial that this matter should be investigated and for the truth to be be made clear. This is in everyone’s interest, not least of those against whom these serious allegations have been made.’

Samherji CEO Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson has agreed with the company’s board of directors to step aside for the duration of the investigation.

His place is taken by former Icelandair President and ex-chair of SFS and the Icelandic Employers Association Björgólfur Jóhannsson, effective immediately. The company reports that its own internal investigation, which is assisted by international law firm Wikborg Rein will continue to report directly to the Board of Directors.

‘Samherji employs thousands of people globally. We take this serious step to ensure and demonstrate the complete integrity of the ongoing investigation. At Samherji we are committed to fair and honest business, and we will always strive to act in accordance with applicable laws and regulations,’ said Eirikur S Jóhannsson, Chair of the Samherji Board of Directors.

According to a a statement from Samherji, the company has not so far been approached by the authorities, but pledges that it will co-operate with any relevant authorities that may take interest in Samherji’s activities in Iceland, in Namibia or elsewhere.