The High Court has ruled in favour of businessperson Thom Mpinganjira in a matter in which the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) wanted Mpinganjira to dispose of his shares in FDH Bank.
Earlier this year, Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) ordered M Development to dispose of his shares in FDH Bank following Mpinganjira’s conviction on charges of attempted bribery.
Mpinganjira together with Nathan Mpinganjira, William Mpinganjira, Annabel Chikondi Mpinganjira hold shares in M Development Limited which is a controlling shareholder in FDH Bank.
RBM and the Financial Services Appeals Committee ruled that M Development should dispose of its shares in the bank but the shareholders took the matter to the High Court saying Mpinganjira and M Development Limited were being treated as one.
Justice Ken Manda, in his ruling dated 9 December, agreed with the appellants saying RBM made an error of law in ruling that M Development should dispose its shares in the bank.
He added that RBM was wrong to treat Mpinganjira and M Development as one and the same entity when in law they are distinct.
“For the avoidance of doubt, [M Development] shall continue to hold its shares in FDH Financial Holdings Ltd and to exercise all rights as such a shareholder. The appellants therefore succeed in this matter,” reads part of the ruling.
Manda also faulted the conduct of the RBM through its governor in the matter saying the central bank made bizarre and unreasonable decisions some of which were not backed by the law.
He added that the case would have been avoided if the RBM had followed the law and not dealt with Mpinganjira in a heavy-handed manner.
“One tends to wonder whether there is something more underlying than what meets the eye,” said Manda before punishing RBM with the costs of litigation.
Commentators on social media have since described the conduct of the RBM as an attempt by the ruling Malawi Congress Party to snatch FDH Bank from Mpinganjira
“Anthu akuba achipani cholamula amafuna kuba bank (the ruling party wanted to steal a bank),” wrote social commentator Joshua Chisa Mbele on Facebook.
Mpinganjira was last year sent to prison for nine years for attempting to bribe judges presiding over the 2019 presidential elections. He is currently out of prison after being granted bail pending appeal earlier this year.
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