Quay Energy is a bogus company established to defraud Malawi: Government plans to pay K1 billion every month for 25 years

Lake Malawi

Social media commentators have described Quay Energy as a “bogus company” with the sole purpose of defrauding the Malawi government through the Salima-Lilongwe Water Project.

The company, social commentators have found, will be pocketing K1 billion kwacha every month for the next 25 years.

Quay was registered as a private company in September 2021 in Australia. It does not have any credible track-record to finance the Salima-Lilongwe Water Project, also known as Lake Malawi Water Project.

But Malawi Government has engaged the newly established company to help the government secure a $313 million (about K300 billion) loan. According to the Ministry of Finance, the loan has repayment period of up to 25 Years, grace period of 6 years, interest rate 1.5% and a one-off payment for structuring fees of 2.5%.

The revelation has shocked Malawians with social commentator Joshua Chisa Mbele alleging that the deal is meant to defraud Malawi Government of taxpayers’ funds.

“This arrangement smells money laundering. Palibe Loan pa [there is no loan here]. This is a heist in making,” said social commentator Joshua Chisa Mbele.

Another social commentator suggested that Quay could be a  shell corporation,  a corporation without active business operations or significant assets sometimes used illegitimately, such as to disguise business ownership from law enforcement or the public.

On Monday, the Ministry of Finance released a statement  in which it vouched for Quay Energy Corp (Australia) Pty Ltd and claimed that due diligence was conducted on the company.

“Despite being established in 2021, there is no negative feedback on its directors and affiliates. Thorough due diligence was conducted on the Arranger of the financing.

“Additionally, Quay Energy, has indicated that it would be working with reputable international financial institutions in arranging this financing hence the financing shall be syndicated. Thus, Quay Energy is not the financier but the arranger for the loan,” the ministry said in the statement.

The Government of Malawi in 2015 initiated a project to source water from Lake Malawi. Consequently, Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) signed an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Contract on 19th December 2016 with Khato Civils Pty Ltd and South Zambezi Joint Venture.

The scope of the Contract is for the extraction of water from Lake Malawi to the city of Lilongwe, surrounding areas and town centres along the M14 Lilongwe – Salima Road.

The Project involves abstraction and treatment of 100,000m3/day water from Lake Malawi (Salima) and transportation of treated water through a 120km transmission pipeline. The project objective is to increase water availability for Lilongwe City and strengthen capacity of LWB and surrounding Towns to respond to adverse climatic conditions, hence sustain reliable water supply to its customers.

However, the project has delayed over the years due failure to identify a suitable financier. The contract with Khato Civils required the contractor to identify a financier of the project while the Government of Malawi’s obligation was to issue a sovereign guarantee for the loan.