Businessperson Zameer Karim of Pioneer Investments (PI) who is facing charges together with two senior police officers in connection with the K2.7 billion Malawi Police Service (MPS) food rations procurement contract will have his case committed to the High Court from Lilongwe Magistrate Court, the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) has said.
Karim, police commissioner Innocent Bottoman and senior superintendent Grant Kachingweare charged in connection with a sum of K466 million Karim claimed as additional payment on the initial contract amount in 2015.
ACB director Reyneck Matemba said the anti-graft agency will on Thursday make an application to Lilongwe Magistrate Court for committal proceedings to the High Court, saying the case has “generated public interest.”
Matemba said on Times Radio: “It’s not that we have reservations with the magistrates’ courts, they are doing a tremendous job in the country but, with the money involved and nature of charges, we thought it prudent that this matter should be tried at the High court.”
Karim of Pioneer Investments is facing three counts of theft of K466 million contrary to Section 278 of the Penal Code, uttering a false document presented to CDH Investment Bank to access a loan contrary to sections 356 and 360 of the Penal Code and acquiring proceeds of crime (K466 million) contrary to Section 42 (1) of the Financial Crimes Act.
On the other hand, Bottoman is accused of uttering false documents which the magistrate said he presented to CDH Investment Bank to enable Karim’s firm, Pioneer Investments, to access a loan.
Bottoman is also accused of abuse of office contrary to Section 25 (b)(1) of the Corrupt Practices Act (CPA) while serving as director of finance at MPS headquarters.
He is alleged to have unilaterally made an undertaking and commitment to CDH Investment Bank to facilitate a loan to Pioneer Investments and that MPS would pay for the businessperson. He is also accused of acquiring proceeds of crime amounting to K466 million.
Kachingwe’s charge is one of forging a document which allowed Karim to access the said loan.
Pioneer’s Karim has been making headlines over the controversial K145 million donation to the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in relation to the Police ‘rationgate’ scandal.
The K145 million stirred debate since a leaked ACB investigation report revealed that Karim through his PI deposited the said amount in a DPP bank account at Standard Bank whose sole signatory is President Peter Mutharika.
Faced with pressure and an outcry from several quarters, including human rights defenders, DPP later announced it was returning the funds to the donor.
In the ACB investigation report, PI is suspected of inflating the contract price from K2.327 billion to K2.8 billion days after it was signed in August 2015. It also named several suspects, including senior MPS officers. No arrests have been made to date.
The ACB report, dated November 2017, also showed that a day after the supplier deposited K2.793 billion payment from MPS for supplying 500 000 ration packs, the company transferred K145 million from its National Bank of Malawi plc account to the DPP account at Standard Bank on April 13 2016.
The President, according to the report, opened the account in 2015, one year after assuming office. The report added that between January and October 2016, Mutharika “made cheque withdrawals amounting to K65 million from the said Standard Bank account”.
Prior to the MPS payment deposited on April 12 2016, according to the investigation, PI account held at National Bank of Malawi Henderson Street Service Centre in Blantyre had a negative balance of K30 426.66.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :