The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) says it is hopeful that trial of the K2.7 billion food rations case involving businessperson Zameer Karim and two senior police officers will start within six weeks.
ACB director general Reyneck Matemba said in an interview yesterday the bureau has finished compiling all the disclosures and that they will be asking for a date from the courts to start trial.
He said: “We hope to commence trial of this case in six weeks’ time. We have compiled all the disclosures. It is a very big case and it has taken us months to compile the disclosures because we have volumes and volumes of disclosures.”
Matemba said he could not mention the exact date the trial may start because such powers rest with the court.
Meanwhile, registrar of the High Court and Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal Agnes Patemba said they will set a date once ACB files a notice at the court.
Last June, ACB senior public relations officer Egrita Ndala told The Nation that the graft-busting body was ready to prosecute the case but was waiting on the court to set the date.
He said: “The ACB is waiting for the court to set a date for the hearing of the case between the State and Zameer Karim and others. Once we get the confirmation [on the dates], we will communicate.”
But when contacted yesterday, Frank Mbeta, lawyer representing Karim, said he was not aware of any developments on the case.
He, however, told The Nation last June that among other procedures, the suspects were expected to enter plea once the court sets the date.
Said Mbeta: “The State also applied to amend the charges so that it will take place at the same time. Also, remember that the case, which was previously being handled at magistrate’s court jurisdiction, will now be heard in the High Court.”
Karim, alongside Commissioner of Police Innocent Bottoman and Senior Superintendent Grant Kachingwe, is accused of conspiring to use public office for his advantage, trading as Pioneer Investments, to arbitrarily obtain K2.7 billion from Malawi Government.
The three were arrested in December 2018 following revelations of suspected dubious transactions in the Malawi Police Service (MPS) food rations contract.
In January 2019, the State applied for amendment of the charges against the three suspects as well as transferring the case from the magistrate’s court to the High Court.
The three were initially charged with various offences such as theft and acquiring proceeds of crime amounting to K466 million.
According to case record number 1586 of 2018, Karim and Bottoman were charged with three counts each while Kachingwe, the third accused, faced one charge.
However, the ACB later amended the charges to include money laundering, conspiracy, influencing the use of public office and use of public office for one’s advantage contrary to Section 25 b (1) of the Corrupt Practices Act.
Following the arrests, MPS interdicted Bottoman and Kachingwe. Bottoman was accused of having unilaterally made an undertaking and commitment to CDH Investment Bank for Karim to access a loan.