Samherji to implement corporate governance and compliance system

Samherji has taken steps to implement a corporate governance and compliance system. The decision to implement the system was made based on experience from the company’s operations in Namibia. The new system will be part of the Samherji Group’s future management structure and will cover Samherji and all its subsidiaries.
“Samherji will develop and implement a holistic compliance system based on the company’s risk structure with focus on, among others, anti-corruption, economic sanctions and anti-money laundering,” says Mr. Björgólfur Jóhannsson the interim CEO of Samherji. The system is expected to be implemented and up and running later this year.
“The compliance system will be key in a new internal program, where we will require all employees to take active part in the process to reassess our values, culture and routines. We will implement a system for risk assessment, code of conduct and policies in the compliance system.”

A letter to coworkers

Dear coworkers.
When I took over as the interim CEO of Samherji I knew the company had excellent employees. Otherwise, it would not have become one of the leaders in the European fisheries industry. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the workforce is really outstanding. I have experienced this quite strongly in recent weeks. I have also noticed the great team spirit and corporate culture which means it is always fun at work, no matter what the projects are.
The fierce and unforgiving weather conditions we experienced here in Iceland earlier this month caused considerable damage. The electricity loss following the snowstorm caused a shutdown in our plant in Dalvík for five days which resulted in considerable losses for the company. However, product damage was avoided and some of our employees in Dalvík moved temporarily to our plant in Akureyri, where we increased production while the power was out in Dalvík.

New CFO hired at Samherji in the Netherlands

Steingrímur H. Pétursson has been appointed CFO at Samherji's office in the Netherlands. Steingrímur has extensive experience in the Icelandic business community and possesses expertise in the field of finance.
Mr. Pétursson was hired from Hagar where he held the position of Director of Finance and Business Development. Prior to joining Hagar Mr. Pétursson was Director of Finance at Olís for three years. Before that he was one of the managing directors of Eimskip and worked at Sandblástur & Málmhúðun but began his career after completing his university studies at KPMG in Akureyri where he worked for four years.
Mr. Pétursson holds a master's degree in Business Administration from the University of Akureyri and a B.Sc. degree in Business Administration from the University of Iceland. He is married to Linda Björk Sævarsdóttir and they have three children. Samherji warmly welcomes Mr. Pétursson to the team.

Cherry-picked emails

Recently, Samherji has examined the data that Wikileaks has published about the company, which is mainly a large volume of emails from Jóhannes Stefánsson's mailbox. This is the data the media has used in its coverage of the activities of companies affiliated with Samherji in Namibia.
Jóhannes had at least 44,028 emails in his mailbox between 2014 and 2016. He handed over 18,497 emails from that period to Wikileaks, which means he only gave Wikileaks 42% of the emails. Most of the emails that Jóhannes decided not to hand over are from 2015. He does not appear to have sent Wikileaks any emails from that year if some mail from January is excluded. This can be clearly seen on the following graph.

This method, to cherry-pick emails, must raise more questions than it answers. What is the content of the unpublished emails? Why were the periods in question chosen but not the whole period? Is there a discrepancy in the data that was not released and the data covered so far by the media?
The fact that 58% of the emails were never published must be food for thought for those who believe that Jóhannes Stefánsson's account of events is correct and consistent with the truth. The members of the media that have covered this story also have to consider if .......

Samherji never owned or controlled Cape Cod FS

Earlier this month, Samherji hired the law firm Wikborg Rein in Norway to assist in investigating the allegations made against the company because of its operations in Namibia. Priority was given to reviewing payments to the company Cape Cod FS.

Stundin and RÚV have stated that Samherji owned the company Cape Cod FS and that JPC Shipmanagement, which provided services to Samherji’s companies, “held” the ownership of Cape Cod FS for Samherji. This is wrong, and there is nothing in Wikborg Rein's investigation that indicates otherwise. Samherji does not own and has never owned Cape Cod FS and has never assigned others to “hold” the ownership of the company.

Cape Cod FS was owned by JPC Shipmanagement, which provided companies affiliated with Samherji with crewing of vessels in the group's operations. Purchasing the services of such companies is well known in international shipping operations.

Both Stundin and RÚV have incorrectly stated that about 70 million dollars was paid to Cape Cod FS because of operations in Namibia. The fact is that 28,9 million dollars was paid to the company in relation to operations in Namibia.

It has been stated in the Icelandic media that the payments to Cape Cod FS are unexplained and abnormal. This is wrong. Namibia has capital controls. In order to make payments out of the Namibian economy various documents are required to verify the payment due to the controls. For this reason, information on payments to each crew member along with a copy of his passport has to be sent to the bank that handles the transactions, which forwards the information to The Bank of Namibia. In order to ensure that all crew members were paid in accordance with their contract, the payments were reviewed by both Cape Cod FS and an employee of a company affiliated with Samherji before the transactions were made.

The amounts that were paid to Cape Cod FS were reviewed. The investigation suggests that the payments were in line with market fees at the time. It was an extensive operation and therefore the amounts paid to the company were not unreasonable due to salaries paid to crew members over a long period of time.

 "The allegations made about the ownership of Cape Cod and the payments made to the company are wrong. The investigation will continue and the relevant authorities will be provided with all findings,” says Björgólfur Jóhannsson, the interim CEO of Samherji. It is expected that Stundin, RÚV and others will correct wrong news reports that have been published about Cape Cod FS. 

Photos from change of leadership in Samherji

Photos taken when Björgólfur Jóhannsson takes over as CEO of Samherji and Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson steps aside for the time being.



The new trawler Hardbakur arrives in hometown

The new trawler Hardbakur EA 3 arrived in hometown Akureyri on November 9th. Photos by Thorhallur Jonsson/Pedromyndir



The Great Fish day in Dalvik

Fish Festival in Dalvík "The Great Fish day" is an annual festival in Dalvíkurbyggð held on the second Saturday of August. Photos by Bjarni Eiriksson.



Samherji CEO steps aside while investigations are ongoing

The CEO and the Board of Directors of Samherji have agreed that the CEO Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson will step aside for the time being until the pending internal investigation into the company’s subsidiaries’ alleged wrongdoing in Namibia has revealed the key material facts of the matter.

During that period, Björgólfur Jóhannsson will function as acting CEO of Samherji effective immediately. Jóhannsson has been the CEO & President of Icelandair Group, Chair of Fisheries Iceland (SFF), Chair of The Icelandic Employers Association (SA) and CEO of the seafood company Icelandic Group. He will focus on meeting the employees and key stakeholders in the coming days.

The internal investigation, which is assisted by the Norwegian and international law firm Wikborg Rein, will continue at full force, reporting 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, says Eirikur S. Jóhannsson, Chair of the Board of Directors of Samherji.

Samherji has not been approached by any authorities so far, but it will of course co-operate with any relevant authorities that may take interest in Samherji’s activities in Iceland, in Namibia or elsewhere.

“Samherji plays an important role in the fishing industry worldwide and we have a responsibility towards our people and customers. I am deeply saddened by the circumstances, but I will do my best to safeguard the interest of Samherji and its employees”, says Björgólfur Jóhannsson in a comment.

Until the investigation has been concluded we will not comment on specific allegations and the company has no further comments at this stage.

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Statement from Samherji

Samherji would like to make the following statement after coverage about our operations in Namibia in a newscast broadcasted tonight by The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.

"We were very disappointed to learn that Jóhannes Stefánsson, a former managing director of Samherji's operations in Namibia, appears to have been involved in questionable business practices and possibly entangled Samherji in activities that may be illegal," says Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson, CEO of Samherji.

Jóhannes Stefánsson was fired from his position in Namibia in 2016 because of mismanagement and unacceptable behavior. Now he has admitted to engaging in illegal activities while managing Samherji's subsidiaries in Namibia.

Until recently, we had no knowledge of the scope and nature of Jóhannes Stefánsson’s business practices and it is uncertain whether they really were the way he describes. As we have already reported, we have engaged the international law firm Wikborg Rein in Norway to investigate the activities in Namibia. In this investigation, nothing will be excluded and we will disclose its findings as soon as they become available.

"We are deeply shocked that Johannes Stefánsson not only admits being involved in illegal activities, he is now also making allegations against colleagues. This is not how we do business. This is not Samherji,” says Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson.

Samherji has been running a successful international operation for 35 years. We always strive to act in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. Samherji will co-operate with the relevant authorities that may investigate the fisheries industry in Namibia. If such an investigation will take place, Samherji has nothing to hide.

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