Malawi Government is failing to commence the fraud case against four Foundation for Irrigation and Sustainable Development (FISD) Limited directors two months after the four suspects were released on bail.
Since FISD directors namely Frank Mwenechanya, Arthur Mpama, Moses Chirambo and Kondwani Nanchukwa were released on bail on Friday, November 13, 2020, the state has failed to show up at court with formal charges as expected on the way the four were arrested.
On November 13, 2020 Magistrate Shyreen Chirwa advised both sides; state and defence team (of the accused) to appear before court on December 15, 2020 for commencement of the case but the state absconded without giving any reasons.
FISD Lawyer Gift Nankhuni said in an interview Monday, January 18, 2021 that his clients were expected to hear from the state early this month on commencement of the case but nothing to date.
Nankhuni expressed worry on how the state is handling the case as till now the court has not served with any document.
“The manner in which my clients were arrested, I thought the state had enough evidence against them but it seems the arrests were cooked up connived with the company’s competitors.
“The arrest of my clients was just meant to tarnish their image. A horrendous act sponsored by some of their business competitors. The court delays seem to be deliberate, perpetrated to frustrate them and their business activities.
“This is very unfair for just arresting individuals without enough evidences but only malice to tarnish their company’s image that it loses business,” worried Nankhuni.
He added: “Up to date, as FISD Lawyer, I have not been served with any document regarding the arrest of my clients on case.”
The court was supposed to meet on December 15, 2020 but the state absconded.
When contacted on commencement of the case, Magistrate Shyreen Chirwa disclosed that her office was still waiting for the state to furnish it with charge document on matter.
The magistrate said until the state submits charge documents the court will set a date for the case commencement.
When called for updates, state prosecutor Moja Phiri in Malawi Police’s fiscal department handling the case referred this reporter to investigative department saying the matter was still being probed.
When contacted for updates, key Investigator John Petrol based in Blantyre declined to comment on the matter and referred again to National Police Spokesperson saying his department has no mandate to speak.
Malawi Police national publicist James Kadadzera confirmed of his office winding up of the case investigation but declined to give more updates to the case.
“Give me a day also that I link up with other departments officers who were handling the case for more updates as since that time I have not been given any information. But as now nothing to tell you,” says Kadadzera.
Efforts to speak with the office of Attorney General (AG) proved futile on the matter as mobile numbers went answered for several times.
FISD lawyer Nankhuni said this just showsthat the arrests were staged and cooked against his clients.
“But I will not rest until my clients are cleared on fake fraud allegations. We will notify the public soon on the next move on the matter unless the state furnishes the court with charge documents”.
“FISD feels that if forgery really happened on a payment certificate in their contract with the Government of Malawi, then key people who signed the said certificate and staff who authorized such direct payment including AfDB Signatories were to be arrested as well”.
The FISD lawyer also wondered how the company’s shareholders would single handedly forge an AfDB document for direct payment from the bank’s overseas account.
The FISD directors were arrested over fraud allegations on Monday, November 9, 2020 and were taken to court where they applied for bail but they were denied.
The four were remanded to Maula prison for five days until their bails were granted on November 13, 2020.
Magistrate Chirwa said when granting bail that she could not give the bail earlier because there were other documents which needed to be collected at AfDB and that the court was assessing if the suspects might interfere with witnesses.
But till now AfDB has not released any document against the suspects.
The arrests came after industrial court faulted Malawi government through Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development for unfairly terminating a contract for FISD Limited Company under contract No. 021/SRWIHL/W/2017/015a-LOT 1 for the rehabilitation, and expansion of three gravity fed water systems in Ntcheu district.
The project is titled “Sustainable Rural Water Infrastructure for Improved Health and Rural Livelihoods Project”.
The contract valued at MK2.4 billion commenced on December 12, 2017 and was supposed to be complete on December 12, 2018.
This publication understands that towards project completion period FISD through the project consultant requested for contract extension as the client wanted the contractor to do some additional works which were not part of the initial contract.