Salima Sugar Company Group Chairman Shrieesh Betgiri, son arrested over theft

Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) has arrested Salima Sugar Company Group Chairman, Shirieesh Betgiri, and his son Bruhat Betgiri over theft of the company’s finances, a development that saw the government and other investors being defrauded of their shares.

Nyasa Times understands that Shirieesh and his son, who is also one of the directors at the company, are suspected of irregularly siphoning money from the company to their associates for own personal gains thereby cheating government and other investors.

Inside sources at MRA further state that Shirieesh Betgiri is being investigated on a number of cases including tax evasion, among them abuse of shareholdership by borrowing money amounting to K4 billion, which they invested in Salima Sugar Company as equity.

Betgiri flanked by one of his officials

They cited Pacific Co Ltd, where he borrowed K1.9 billion at 23 percent interest. The investigations further indicate that 01 February 2022, Shirieesh Betgiri, of Mothers Dairy and Energy Farms Limited, wrote CDH Account Relationship Manager, advising him that, through Current Account No 003021552201 he has issued cheque number 000009 amounting to MWK 510 million.

“Kindly note that we have issued cheque number 000009 of MWK 510, 000 from abovementioned account to Aum Sugar & Allied Ltd. Please register this as equity from Mothers Dairy & Energy Farms Ltd to Aum Sugar & Allied Ltd. Kindly send us the confirmation of Reserve Bank of Malawi Acceptance Please effect the instruction urgently,” reads the communication to the bank.

The other illicit thing is that he was borrowing money from the sugar distribution companies, which makes things worse and complicated.

“What this man was doing was totally wrong and unacceptable at all. Investigations have revealed that Shirieesh Betgiri was getting some cash from sources such as companies that we have managed to trace at the interest rate of 23 percent and pay back the loans using money cashed from the company, and tax records have never been clear at all,” said the source.

What Shirieesh Betgiri is doing is against Malawi Government laws on shareholdership which encourages transparency accountability in its dealings.

Our sources have further added that the investigations have established that the suspects registered so many companies but are not operational.

It is not known what kind of business some of these companies are doing in Malawi like Mother Dairies Ltd.

MRA is mandated to collect Import Duty, Import Excise, Import Value Added Tax (VAT) Export Duty as well as facilitating legitimate trade and protects the society and environment from harmful and hazardous goods and services. The body also through Domestic Taxes Division administers and enforces the Taxation Act, VAT Act and the Customs and Excise Act.

Recently, Shirieesh Betgiri has been in the news resisting reforms at the company.

Part of the order read; “This Order restrains you the Defendants either by yourself, your servants or agents or otherwise by whosoever from implementing and effecting your Resolutions of the 7h of April, 2023 until a further order of this Court or until the final determination of the matter herein.”

Following this Injunction, members of staff cannot access their salaries.

Greenbelt Authority (GBA), which is in joint venture with AUM Sugar Allied Limited, recently announced firing of Betgiri as its board chairperson and appointed new Board of Directors which saw roping in of a well known lawyer Wester Peter Kosamu as its Executive Chairperson and Mr Apoorva Roy as its Acting Chief Executive Officer for Salima Sugar Company Limited with effect from April 8, 2023.

In a statement, GBA through its investment arm Greenbelt Holding Limited (GBHI) appointed the following as new Board Members: Professor Betchani Tchereni, Eric Dudley Chizungu, Monasyile Mhango, Engineer Geoffrey Mamba, Dr Sachim Nikam, Mr Prachant Sharma, Mr Vikas Hirawat, Mr Nitin Ranbhise, Mr Vipul Kulkani and Mr Shridar Pulate.

In the corporate universe, the Executive Board Chairperson serves as a strategic link between management and the board of directors.

Meanwhile the inter-parties hearing to extend the injunction or not is scheduled on Tuesday 9th May, 2023 before High Court Commercial Division in Lilongwe at 9 am.

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