Batatawala wants to steal public resources – Govt

Government says it will use all its expertise and available legal avenues to stop businessman Abdul Karim Batatawala from stealing K53 billion.

Mussa: it is daytime robbery of public funds

Minister of Information Henry Mussa said this in a statement yesterday in reaction to a K53 billion claim by companies linked to Batatawala which are demanding a K53 billion pay-out from the government.

In the statement, Mussa said government knows that Batatawala’s claim is dubious and aimed at defrauding the Treasury and state coffers.

“Government would like to assure all Malawians and those concerned that we will use all our expertise and available legal avenues to defend the rights of Malawians against this daytime robbery of state resources.

“Our lawyers are meticulously examining the claim and any or all fraudulent and criminal aspects underpinning this transaction will be dealt with and responded to accordingly,” Mussa said.

He added that all government agencies responsible for civil as well as criminal justice are coordinating their efforts in handling the claim.

“We shall regularly update the general public on the steps being taken by government in defence of the people of Malawi,” said Mussa.

Two companies – African Commercial Agency and Reliance Trading Company owned by Batatawala – were awarded a K9 billion contract to supply uniforms to the Immigration Department in 2012 but failed to honour the deal.

Five years later, the suppliers wrote the Immigration Department saying the uniforms were due to arrive in Malawi. The two firms wanted duty free clearance from the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA).

The department however rejected the goods following legal advice from the Attorney General (AG) who argued that the period for delivery had elapsed.

The two firms then sued government over the issue and are now demanding K53 billion.

Last week, the Public Affairs Committee summoned the companies after noting that the suppliers in their claim are quoting exorbitant prices such as K60,000 for a shirt and in some cases a K100,000 for belt.

Menyani said the committee would like to physically check the samples to ascertain if they match the quoted prices.

He added that they would also check the tax invoices the two companies received from Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) to warrant them to seek a waiver and the bill of lading from the manufacturer.