Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has said it is still investigating businessperson Zameer Karim on the Malawi Police Service (MPS) food rations scam after the bureau was advised on the matter by two legal independent practitioners.
Karim, whose Pioneer Investments donated K145 million to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) through a Standard Bank account which President Peter Mutharika is the sole signatory, is embroiled in a K2.7 billion police food rations contract controversy.
The DPP returned the donation to Karim after civil society leaders exterted pressure and ACB went ahead to clear President Mutharika, saying he did not personally benefit from the money deposited into his account
ACB director general Reyneck Matemba said in interviews in local press that the food rations case were concluded, as procedure demands, the file was referred to the Prosecutions and Legal Department.
“After analysing the facts and the evidence on file, two legal opinions were prepared, one by an officer working for the ACB and the other by an independent legal practitioner. Both advised that additional investigative work needs to be done, and that’s exactly what the ACB is currently doing,” he said.
Matemba said ACB was “making progress” on its investigations on the food rations scam.
Meanwhile, rights activist Charles Kajoloweka, who is director of Youth and Society (YAS), has said it will seek private inestigations on Karim.
“People need to know how many contracts is PI involved in and why government is so keen to provide them business,” he said.
The CSOs said they are startegising on what action to take.
Six months before awarding the contract to Pioneer Investments, Police former director of finance Innocent Bottoman wrote CDH, a local bank that Police undertook to remit almost K1 billion to Pioneer Investments for the purpose of procuring ration packs.
Based on that undertaking, Pioneer Investments borrowed almost K1 billion from CDH to finance the supply of ration packs.
ACB established that the signature of a co-signatory on Bottoman’s letter to CDH, Bottoman’s deputy Tadius Samveka, was forged.
Again, on July 16 2015, Bottoman and Karim made an additional undertaking to CDH that the MPS would remit over K2.1 billion to the bank, as a guarantee for Karim to borrow a similar amount from the bank. Bottoman made both guarantees to Karim before the contract was awarded on August 4 2015, contrary to Malawi’s procurement laws.Only the Minister of Finance has powers to make such undertakings.
Upon signing the contract worth K2,327,087,500, six days later, Karim wrote Bottoman requesting an upward adjustment of 20 percent.
Karim claimed that the depreciation of the Malawi kwacha against the United States dollar was the reason for the price adjustment. Meanwhile, ACB established that between August 4 and 6 2015, the kwacha had only depreciated by about two percent not the 20 percent Karim claimed.
When he was paid for the contract on April 12 2016, the following day, Karim issued a cheque of K145 million into a DPP Standard Bank account whose sole signatory is President Peter Mutharika.
From January to October 2016, K65 million was withdrawn from this account which the party used to purchase a house from Blantyre City Council. The house, which was meant for the city’s mayor, is DPP’s Southern Region office.
Following the leakage, there was mounting pressure from the public and some civil society organisations (CSOs) for Mutharika to resign and calls for his impeachment over allegations that he was implicated in the procurement scandal.
The initial leaked report recommended that Bottoman and Karim be prosecuted for allegedly defrauding the Malawi government of K466,000,000
It also recommended that Bottoman and Karim be prosecuted for acquiring proceeds of crime totalling K1.4 billion. The two are also to be charged for forging and uttering false documents, contrary to Section 356 as read with Section 360 of the Penal Code.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :