Shirieesh Betgiri arrested over K51 billion fraud at Salima Sugar

Former chairperson of Salima Sugar Company Limited Shirieesh Betgiri has been arrested following revelations that about K51 billon was mismanaged at Salima Sugar.

National Police spokesperson Peter Kalaya has told the local media that Betgiri was arrested on Wednesday.

Police also have warrants for Prashant Sharma, Vikas Hirawatt, Sachin Nikam and former Greenbelt Authority chief Henri Njoloma who are suspected to be outside Malawi.

According to Kalaya, the suspects will answer charges ranging from uttering false documents, forgery, cheating, conspiracy to defraud and  money laundering.

Salima Sugar Company Limited is public limited company with 40 percent of shares owned by Malawi Government while 60 percent are held through Aum Sugar Co. Ltd.

Earlier this month, Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda told a news conference that a forensic audit had revealed that over US$30 million (about K51 billion) was misappropriated at the company.

Chakaka said senior officer incorporated Salima Sugar Company Limited in Dubai without the knowledge of the Malawi Government. A bank account in the name of Salima Sugar Company Limited was also opened in Dubai.

He added that three more bank accounts with FDH, First Capital Bank and MyBucks were opened without board approval and that chairperson Shirieesh Betgiri and his son Director Bruhat Betgiri were the only signatories.

“Billions of Kwacha were lost through misprocurement between 2016 and 2022, mostly from related parties and without declaration of interest,” he said.

According to Chakaka, politicians and senior civil servants were also involved in defrauding Malawi Government through Salima Sugar.