Malawi govt to pay Sigh Trust K1.1bn for selling land to Goodall, central bank’s Nkosi

The High Court Commercial Division, Blantyre has ordered government to pay Sigh Trust, a private firm, K1.1 billion after it dubiously sold the Trust’s two plots in Lilongwe to  economic planning and development minister Goodall Gondwe and deputy governor of Reserve Bank of Malawi Mary Nkosi.

The court’s ruling follows a failure by the Attorney General (AG) to contest against Sigh Trust’s lawsuit last month, in which it claimed K147 million for lost rentals, K1 billion as value of the two plots, arguing it bought the plots in 2000 from the embassy of Germany.

Government through the AG, according to the files, was given 14 days to respond to the filed lawsuit and was warned failure to do so would force the court to proceed with action and enter judgment against it.

However, the AG did not file notice of intention to file defence despite being served with the lawsuit and the court entered a default judgment on February 12, 2013, immediately rewarding the Trust K1, 147, 744, 000.

Goodall Gondwe: Developed the land and now tax payers will folk K1.1 billion to pay Sig
Goodall Gondwe: Developed the land and now tax payers will folk K1.1 billion to pay Sigh Trust

“No notice of intention to defend having been entered on the part of the defendant herein within the prescribed time. It is this day adjudged that the defendant (AG) does pay K1, 147, 744, 000 00,” reads the judgment in part.

Lawyer for the Trust, Ambokire Salimu said the court is yet to assess the claimed reimbursements of collection costs and costs of proceedings as well as interests based at current banking rates.

“Since its default judgment, the court will set a date to make the assessment,” Salimu said.

In January this year Sigh Trust through Salimu filed a lawsuit claiming lost rentals, value of the two plots.

Court documents indicate that the Trust bought the two plots located in Area 10 in 2000 from Germany Embassy and was issued with Land Certificates on January 25 2008.

But it was prompted to commence legal battle after government leased one of its plots, Title number 10/105 which was allocated to Nkosi on May 1, 2004 while the other plot, Title number 10/50 to Goodall Edward Gondwe and Getrude Gondwe in July 2005 with their Lease Certificate issued on March 24, 2011.

The court documents revealed that Nkosi and the Gondwes started developing the plots despite the appraisal of the Trust’s interests in the land.

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