The Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) has said there is little it can do to help about a thousand Malawians, including businesspersons and students, who are struggling to recover their billions which they invested with Greenlights Business Investors Portfolio after the company promised high returns.
One of the affected persons said he invested K11 million and was told that he would make K27 million from his investment but he never got any returns and he is now struggling.
“I am surviving on begging as if I did not get anything from my contract employment where I received my gratuity,” he told The Weekend Nation newspaper.
A Lilongwe-based businesswoman also told the newspaper that she invested K1.7 million meant for her children’s university fees while another woman said she shut down her business and invested K6 million into the company with the hope of getting returns.
“I was hoping to cash out in May this year,” the woman said. “I visited their offices where I cried in front of their workers, they gave me a K2.5 million cheque, which was referred to drawer. I am told I fainted and was taken to hospital, where I was told that my heart had swollen. Until today I have a heart problem, the katapira guys (her lenders) are on my neck,” she said.
Greenlights Business Investors Portfolio was established in 2019 and registered as an agro-business company according to the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA).
However, the company whose director is Kondwani Phiri started operating as a financial institution, wooing people to invest their money through it for high returns in six months.
The company was also training the prospective clients on the importance of investments.
A representative of the clients, Patrick Singoyi, told the Weekend Nation that people who invested their money from 2019 to early 2020 were able to cash out.
However, challenges started to emerge when those who invested in 2021 were not able to cash out after the agreed period.
The company is not registered with Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) as a financial institution but after the investors complained, the bank in March this year obtained a court order to freeze the company’s accounts.
Greenlights Business Investors Portfolio also went to court and removed the RBM order with a promise that the investors would be refunded in July.
However, no investor is yet to be refunded and Greenlights Business Investors Portfolio has since closed its offices.
“The company failed to pay us our money. We have over 963 clients with a total investment of K2.5 billion which, with interest, would amount to K4.3 billion,” Singoyi told the Nation.
Meanwhile, the matter is in the High Court of Malawi commercial division sitting in Lilongwe where in the first week of October the court this year extended the freeze order of the company’s accounts “until a further order of the court or final determination of the matter”.
Greenlights director Kondwani Phiri refused to comment on the issue.
RBM spokesperson Davie Ndege has since warned the public against investing with Greenlights or other unlicenced institutions.
“Those that want to invest their money are advised to only deal with licensed financial institutions,” he said.
Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) compliance and public relations manager Masautso Ebere said at least five people including the director of the firm were arrested for operating the illegal institution.
“Currently, the matter is under prosecution by the Malawi Police Service,” said Ebere.
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