A group calling itself Concerned Citizens have written Malawi government through Attorney General to allow the invitation of British expert in proceeds of crime to comb through the companies owned by Abdul Karim Batawarara to establish how the government lost billions of kwacha in dubious payments in the wake of the K53 billion claims from government.
Abdul Karim Batawarara through his companies African Commercial Agency and Reliance Trading Company are demanding the said amount for an agreement signed in March 2012.
The two suppliers signed a K9 billion contract with the Immigration Department to supply uniforms but failed to honour the deal and are now demanding K53 billion, which is more than five times the agreed amount.
The budget of the Malawi Immigration Department is only K500 million a year.
But a letter to government, seen by Nyasa Times, the concerned citizens ask for approval to invite the British expert, a QC highly experienced in proceeds of crime with particular expertise in the analysis and presentation of complex financial investigations to help Malawi investigate on the “undeclared wealth” from the businessman who is also a British citizen.
“With this enquiry, the Malawi government officials could learn a lot in investigation matters,” reads a letter dated January 21 2019.
The concerned citizens said the exercise with a British expert with an eye for detail who will help to deliver the nation from the consuming cancer of wrongful enrichment and put the country on a path of genuine and sustainable national development with decent and honest suppliers.
The QC specialist in Proceeds of Crime Act (UK) is said to have already been identified.
Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale as very elusive when contacted by Nyasa Times on the matter.
Kaphale said his office receives a lot of letters and could not comment on each of them.
When Nyasa Times drew his attention to the specific letter from the Concerned Citizens on Karim Batawarara, the Attorney General confirmed the letter is in his in-tray.
“I have received letter [but] I will need to consult my superiors if government dies need any help to investigate anyone locally for corruption,” he said.
Kaphale said he will ask the author of the letter who he said only left an email address, for “evidential leads” to the allegations of financial crimes.
“As a government all allegations of corruption are taken seriously and this letter will be passed on to the Anti Corruption Bureau, without doubt,” said the Attorney General.
The development comes after the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has demanded the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Fiscal Police and the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) to investigate the Batawarara of K54billion claim.
HRDC also want PPDA to immediately disbar the two companies and any firms associated with Batawarara from participating in any public tender in Malawi.
The grouping also want government to suspend all current contracts that Africa Commercial Agency and Reliance Trading Company or any firms associated with Batawarara until the two companies are cleared.
“Should the Malawi Government not act on the above, HRDC will assume that the administration is in consort with the suppliers that want to reap from poor Malawians where they did not sow
“Should that be the case, HRDC shall include this as one of the demands in the upcoming demonstrations in March 2019. The demonstrations shall be against continued plunder of public resources specifically against Mr. Karim Batawarara, his two companies and the Peter Mutharika-led government,” reads the statement.
The group has also threatened that if its demands are not affected it will have no option but to take legal action because “Malawians have watched with dismay certain questionable suppliers shamelessly siphoning billions out of government through dubious claims and inflation of invoices.”
After signing the contract in 2012, nothing came through from the suppliers and the Immigration Department concluded that the companies’ silence on the order had invalidated the contract.
But on August 1 2017, the department got separate letters from the two companies both dated July 31 2017 with identical message that the goods the department had ordered would be in Malawi “within the next three weeks” and asked the authorities to facilitate duty free clearance from the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) for the consignments.
This shocked the department because as far as it was concerned the contracts were no longer valid in view of the five years that elapsed without receiving the goods.
The department then wrote the Attorney General (AG) on August 2 2017 seeking legal advice and the AG advised it to reject the goods based on the lapsed time, forcing the suppliers to resort to courts where government is now fighting the matter.
Batatawala is not new to controversy. He was arrested for alleged tax evasion worth billions of Kwachas.
Warrants of arrest Malawi Revenue Authority obtained from Blantyre Chief Resident Magistrate indicate that between 2009 and 2014 three Batatawala brothers [Abdul, Aslam and Mahomed], “Knowingly concealed and suppressed” information on sales amounting to over K30 billion with a view to “fraudulently evade value-added tax (VAT)” contrary to Section 49(1) of the VAT Act Chapter 42:02 of the Laws of Malawi.
He is the main shareholder in one of Malawi’s premier healthcare facilities, Sheffer Clinic, in Blantyre. Under his ‘Pamodzi Settlement Trust’, Abdul Karim Batawalalala today owns 54 luxury and fully furnished apartments in Sunnyside, Namiwawa, Mandala, Nyambadwe, Moneymen, Mpingwe, Mudi, Stewards & Lloyds, opposite Mwaiwathu Hospital, a luxury Lakeshore Cottage in Mangochi (next to Sun ‘N’ Sand).
Abdul Karim also owns 5000 square metre warehouses in Makata industrial area and Ginnery Corner, 10 shops and 45-room office complex at Ginnery Corner.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :