We did not win the MRA tender illicitly

…Swiss company threatens legal action for defamation

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A company whose director and officials met with Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera in Switzerland has denied allegations that Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) flouted its procurement laws to award the Swiss company a lucrative tender soon after the meeting with Chakwera.

In a set of emails to Malawi24, the company said it is committed “to doing business with integrity [and] in accordance with all applicable laws” around the world.

“SICPA has never obtained a contract in any illicit manner anywhere in the world. SICPA has never been convicted of corruption anywhere in the world and strongly contests any accusation of corruption. SICPA is committed to doing business with integrity and acting in accordance with all applicable laws around the world,” reads a statement to Malawi24.

Chakwera traveled to Lausanne, Switzerland in February to meet Mr. Philippe Amon, Executive Director of SICPA,

The company also stated that while it was found administratively liable in Brazil for the actions of a former external consultant by the Brazilian authorities, its entities were “not condemned for corruption and neither were its directors.

“In regards to the allegations relating specifically to Brazil, it is important to note that no employee or manager working for SICPA in Brazil was convicted nor recognized guilty. The two SICPA entities in Brazil entered into a Leniency Agreement with Brazil’s Office of the Comptroller-General (CGU) and Attorney General’s Office (AGU) in June 2021”.

“Whilst SICPA was found administratively liable for the actions of a former external consultant by the Brazilian authorities, SICPA’s Brazilian entities were not condemned for corruption. SICPA can continue to operate its existing public contracts in Brazil and can be awarded new public contracts” claimed the company.

The company also insists that it “strictly abides by applicable procurement laws and regulations “.

The company claimed that there was nothing sinister over the meeting its directors and officials had with President Lazarus Chakwera whose commitment to fighting corruption continue to be doubted by the public following the arrest of an investigative journalist. It has also been alleged that there are agents of the current administration who want the Director General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) prosecuted over an audio leak that Chakwera called painful and embarrassing.

“As a long-standing and trusted partner of governments, it is therefore normal that government representatives meet with senior representatives of SICPA during their visit to Switzerland to discuss solutions that can strengthen the sovereignty of their states,” said SICPA.

The company accused the media of disregarding all journalistic ethics; and believes its work “systematically triggers opposition” from its competitors or some of the sectors controlled.

It was earlier alleged that the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) flouted its own laid down procurement laws in order to accommodate SICPA in a fiscal services involving the supply of monitoring, printing, and retailing of fiscal tax stamps.

The original tender was opened in April 2021 having been advertised under the procurement reference number, MRA/TAX STAMPS AND M[1]SOLUTION/01/03/2022. However, MRA re-tendered the contract in March 2022 without credible justification for the action.

Among others, the Authority stated that it would reject a recommendation for award if it determines that the bidder recommended for award has, directly or through an agent, engaged in corrupt, fraudulent, collusive or coercive practices in competing for the contract in question.

MRA has not commented on the allegations that it flouted its procurement laws and redacted provisions that required disqualification of companies with records of corrupt practices.

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