Oil companies have given First Lady Gertrude Mutharika’s Beautify Malawi (BEAM) Trust K220 million since 2014, it has been revealed.
According to a story by the Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJM), the companies were under probe for giving $1.2m in kickbacks to former President Joyce Banda whose administration awarded six oil and gas exploration licences on Lake Malawi to several companies.
The companies which were awarded contracts are South Africa-based SacOil (which later changed its name to Efora Energy, “Energy for Africa”), British firm Surestream Petroleum, RAK Gas of the United Arab Emirates and Seychelles-based Pacific Oil.
Egyptian company Hamra Oil later bought Surestream’s concession.
After being awarded the contracts, the oil firms gave Banda’s Mudzi Transformation Trust a total of $1.2 million as stated in their licence agreements.
The awarding of the contracts led to suspicions that money changed hands and in May last year the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) started investigating the issue.
But the First Lady is reported to have used her power to force the bureau to drop the probe and the bureau did so in August last year.
“A State House official called an investigator who was handling the case to back off the probe. And we did,” an ACB senior official revealed.
However, ACB senior publicist Egrita Ndala told CIJM that a case might be dropped due to many reasons.
While President Peter Mutharika’s spokesperson Mgeme Kalirani denied claims that the first lady and her foundation had received funding from oil companies.
“These are wild and malicious allegations composed and peddled by ill-minded individuals against the noble character of the first lady, Madam Gertrude Maseko,” Kalirani said.