The newly established Centre for Public Accountability (Open Malawi) asked members of Parliament (MPs) to conduct to conduct an open inquiry on externalisation of minerals and foreign exchange and release of information by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) on persons named or arrested in relation to foreign exchange matters.
Open Malawi Acting Director Kondwani Bell Munthali, in a statement issued on Sunday, expresses disappointment that despite reports of billions of dollars being stashed in foreign tax havens, the authorities are doing nothing to arrest people who are behind the cartel.
Munthali’s grievances are contained in a letter he has written to chairpersons of various Parliamentary Committees, which has been titled: “REQUEST A PARLIAMENTARY OPEN INQUIRY ON EXTERNALISATION OF MINERALS AND FOREIGN EXCHANGE AND RELEASE OF INFORMATION BY THE ANTI-CORRUPTION BUREAU (ACB) AND FINANCIAL INTELLIGENCE AUTHORITY (FIA) ON PERSONS NAMED OR ARRESTED IN RELATION TO FOREIGN EXCHANGE MATTERS.”
Munthali cites recent examples of Pandora papers in which Hitesh Anadkat of First Capital Bank, Mr Shiraz Ferreira of SF International and Strood International, Mr Mohammed Abdul Gaffar Kassam of Globe Electronic Limited and Tushar Vonodrai Lakhani of Infinity Trading Company Ltd are being named as some of Malawians of Indians of Indian origin who are externalizing forex in Malawi.
He alleges that the other crops as well such tobacco, sugar, legumes, tea, and coffee are suspected to be used in double invoicing system which deprives Malawi of its much-needed forex as the taxed amounts are not the true reflection of the value of crops reflected.
“In tourism, telecommunications and banking services, most of the service providers do not remit at all the funds paid or transferred into their bank accounts outside Malawi. Honourable Chairpersons, The losses are being estimated at K46 billion annually, though if you add the assumed gold mining losses at USD85 million the proper value estimate could be over K300 billion a year being lost through such a system,” alleges Munthali.
He adds, “Honourable Chairpersons, despite all these cases coming into limelight, our authorities such as the Anti-Corruption Bureau, Financial Intelligence Unit, Reserve Bank of Malawi and the Ministry Justice have decided to keep quite on both the revelations in international media or the arrests affecting people with links to Malawi.”
He draws the attention of the chairpersons to the fact that in “today’s digital world, information such as of arrest of a Malawian linked business or naming of people stashing monies outside Malawi, means every potential donor or investor would be interested to ascertain how strong and transparent is the rule of law in curbing such malpractices before investing or donating to Malawi.”
Munthali laments the silence from prosecution agencies and hiding from public such critical information sends wrong signals to the would-be investors or donors as being complicit to these powerful businesses.
He says this creates vacuum and enables misinformation to flourish which has long term negative consequences on the image of Malawi.
“Honourable Chairpersons, looking at the continued losses Malawian, and the silence from related agencies entrusted to protect the country, I would like to request for an open inquiry into the matter of externalisation of foreign exchange, repatriation of profits, monies paid outside Malawi, export proceeds from agricultural and services sectors, double invoicing on exports and on handling of cases where some of these named persons have been cleared in an unusual circumstance.
“The request extends that you should request the Anti-Corruption Bureau, the Financial Intelligence Unit and the Director of Public Prosecutions to inform Malawians of current investigations or arrests in related to this matter.
“I am Acting Director for Centre for Public Accountability and its Open Malawi Programme whose primary objective is to enhance public services delivery through transparency and accountability as entailed in section 12 (1) (C) of the Malawi Constitution. I hope the information requested can be provided within reasonable time as we work to support your vision of improving delivery of public services,” Munthali concludes his request.
A senior Public Relations Officer at Parliament, Ian Mwenye, could not be immediately reached for a comment on Sunday.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :