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15.06.2021 Africa

US bans two Namibia ex-ministers over accepting bribes

By AFP
Tourists paddle among seals in 2017 in waters off Namibia, where a scandal over quotas for fishing has triggered US sanctions.  By GIANLUIGI GUERCIA (AFP/File)
LISTEN JUN 15, 2021
Tourists paddle among seals in 2017 in waters off Namibia, where a scandal over quotas for fishing has triggered US sanctions. By GIANLUIGI GUERCIA (AFP/File)

The United States said Tuesday it would ban the entry of two former government ministers from Namibia whose alleged acceptance of bribes caused a political uproar in 2019.

The State Department said that former fisheries minister Bernhard Esau and former justice minister Sacky Shanghala -- as well as their immediate family members -- would not be allowed into the United States.

"The United States continues to stand with all Namibians in support of democracy and the rule of law, and against those who would undermine these principles for personal gain," State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

The two ministers resigned and were arrested in 2019 on allegations that they accepted $10 million in bribes from one of Iceland's biggest fishing firms, Samherji, in return for awarding quotas on horse mackerel from the sparsely populated southwest African nation.

The scandal, triggered by the publication of documents by WikiLeaks, came shortly before elections in which President Hage Geingob won another term but with a sharply reduced majority.

President Joe Biden earlier this month ordered a review on how better to fight corruption globally, calling the issue a national security interest of the United States as graft "rots democracy from the inside" and boosts authoritarians.

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