(First published in Norwegian 21 Dec 2006)
By Erik Hagen
“If we have some fishmeal to sell, then Chr. Holtermann has the contacts to help us”, confirms Harald Wiedswang, the Norwegian fish-oil pioneer in Western Sahara, to Norwatch.
As previously reported by Norwatch, Wiedswang is the manager of the Moroccan company KB Fish, which, against the advice of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, exports fish oil from Western Sahara to Norway. In addition, the company exports fishmeal to both Europe and Africa. One of KB Fish’s most important collaborators is Chr. Holtermann ANS, a small brokerage firm at Stabekk outside Oslo, with about 15 employees.
According to Wiedswang, Holtermann is the one who ensured that his company has succeeded in, among other things, getting into the big fish market in Egypt. That is where the largest portion of KB Fish’s fishmeal production goes now.
But the brokerage firm refuses to answer any of Norwatch’s questions about its part in Western Sahara.
Silent as the Grave
“We are a 90-year-old company, rich in traditions. Our policy is to not talk to the press”, Kai Lotherington, board member of Chr. Holtermann, told Norwatch. Nor does Lotherington want to answer whether they have consulted the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. By a slip of the tongue he confirms that he knows of Harald Wiedswang’s company in the region.
Norwatch has not been able to ascertain whether KB Fish is the only producer in Western Sahara that Chr. Holtermann brokers for, or whether they also broker goods produced by other Moroccan companies.
The Borregaard subsidiary Denofa is also supposed to have brokered fish oil from Western Sahara. Some years ago it was responsible for a fourth of all fish-oil brokerage in the world. In addition, Denofa had its own production and is to have regularly received fish oil from the occupied region. Now both the brokerage and the production have been terminated.
“We made an investigation last year, in connection with the program (Brennpunkt) on the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation to ascertain whether we had any skeletons in the closet. We found that we did not at that time”, Endre Steinbru at Borregaard informed Norwatch.
He said further that they had terminated the import already during the summer of 2005 and that the former subsidiary Denofa had already at that time been closed down. Half a year previously the concern had carried out substantial reorganization, and all fish-oil brokerage had been terminated. Simultaneously, the most lucrative omega-3 production was separated off into a new company, Denomega. They use exclusively suppliers from countries other than Morocco and Western Sahara.