The Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) has disclosed that it duly approved Press Trust Overseas Limited, a subsidiary of Press Trust Corporation, to register in the tax havens of British Virgin Islands, Jersey and Channel Island.
Press Trust Corporation is an organization established through an act of parliament and run by political elites and well connected persons in Malawi.
RBM spokesperson Mbane Ngwira said the bank gives approval for any company to invest outside Malawi based on information given by the applicant
By all account, Press Trust is a huge organization in Malawi, a country considered to be one of the poorest countries in Africa.
Press Trust Corporation Limited has footprints in companies both listed and unlisted at the Malawi Stock Exchange ranging from banks, telecommunication, beverages and fuel service stations.
“RBM does not authorise illicit transactions. Press Trust could have responded by indicating what they got the licence for and if it indeed was used for that purpose, “ said Ngwira spokesperson in a written response.
Press Trust Overseas Limited is amongst the 214 000 offshore companies that were registered by discredited Panama based law firm Mossack Fonseca, documents reveal.
Early last month, the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists and its international partners began reporting stories on the leaked 11.5 million documents that shows that the law firm Mossack Fonseca systematically assisted the rich and powerful to hide money and evade taxes.
The new revelation that a statutory organization, Press Trust Corporation, has used the discredited law firm since 2008 to handle its offshore services is stunning.
As a public organization, its financial report and annual reports does not indicate that the company is registered in Tax havens such as British Virgin Islands.
The main object of the Trust is to provide funding by way of grants, donations or contributions to any person or institution for charitable purposes which are in the interest and for the benefit of the people of Malawi including for the advancement of their education, health, social welfare and housing, it says on its website.
Evidence unearthed by INK Centre for Investigative Journalism, Centre for Investigative Journalism Malawi through ICIJ shows that the company was registered in the British Virgin Islands in May 26, 1999.
But PTOL Chief Executive Officer Patrick Mhango in an emailed response said the Reserve Bank of Malawi approved the foreign subsidiary’s incorporation and basis of operation in 2000.
He added, “By the way, Press Trust being a public trust does not pay taxes either here in Malawi or indeed anywhere else.
“Therefore, the objective of PTOL was never to take advantage of the ‘tax heavens’. It was a purely commercial business decision to expand the investments of Press Trust globally in the well-established global capital and money markets”, Mhango said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :