Finance Bank chairman Dr. Rajan Mahtani who is demanding One Million United States Dollars (US$1,000,000.00) from Nyasa Times as damages in a defamation claim for a column the news site published recently, has been arrested in Zambia for forgery.
Mahtani who recently met Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe and plans to re-launch Finance Bank of Malawi, hired law firm Mvalo and Company, seeking the damages over an article authored by Lowani Mtonga, saying it “ falsely” stated that in the way of their business that Finance Bank opened ghost accounts and that it is a dishonest bank which engaged in criminal activities .
The article complained about was published on 19th February 2015, titled “Is govt serious to allow Finance Bank to re – open in Malawi?”
According to Zambia Reports, Mahtani, who was released on a ZK25,000 bail, had originally been summoned for questioning on his involvement in a separate scandal regarding misappropriated campaign funds allegedly stolen by the expelled Patriotic Front member Brian Hapunda, but once he was present, he was arrested on long-standing accusations of a scandal dating from 2006.
According to a statement by Zambia Police Spokesperson Charity Mubanga, Mahtani was arrested on two counts of forgery C/Sec 344(9) of the Penal Code Cap 87 of the Laws of Zambia.
“In both counts, Dr. Mahtan is alleged to have jointly and whilst acting with other persons unknown forged a Transfer of 500,000,000 Shares from Zambezi Portland Cement into Finsbury Investment Limited purporting that the forms were dully signed by the Directors of Zambezi Portland Cement when in fact not,” the statement reads.
The offences are alleged to have been committed on 12th of December 2006. Mahtani has been bonded and will appear in court soon, according to the police.
The article which Mahtan is suing Nyasa Times for urged Malawi “ not to open accounts with Finance Bank, to keep far from it, implying that their money would not be safe with the bank as it would be stolen.”
Aauthor Lowani Mtonga, former national director Media Institute for Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi chapter, argued that Finance Bank owner is trying to use law to silence critical media, saying whatever is on the internet is public information.
The Reserve Bank of Malawi report is clear about the corrupt activities of Finance Bank and why the Bank was closed it down in the country, Mtonga further argued.
According to Zambia Reports, Mahtani allegedly used his once-powerful influence with the previous government of President Michael Sata to avoid arrest and prosecution on a raft of criminal charges. That influence, however, appears to have run out.
The banker had earlier fled abroad from a separate police summons regarding his potential links to matters under consideration in the Tribunal being carried out against the suspended Director of Public Prosecutions Mutembo Nchito.
Several years ago Nchito dismissed a criminal case against Mahtani, despite the courts having found him with a case to answer. Mahtani later gave Nchito $4.2 million in debt forgiveness.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :