Nine people alleged to have defrauded four commercial banks of at least K20 billion are expected to appear before the High Court in Blantyre next Thursday to take plea, the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs has said.
In an interview on Wednesday, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs spokesperson Pilirani Masanjala, while confirming the date for plea taking, said since April 10, they have not heard anything from the defence team, which means they are contented with the amended charges.
He said: “Ideally, it is supposed to be between April 10 and 25 that they should make their objections both to the court and the prosecution team. But if they will not, it means we will proceed under the assumption that they have taken no issue with the amended charges.”
Before court proceedings, the State filed charges to the suspects and the defence team raised some objections, resulting in the court ruling to amend the charges.
But when the court convened on April 10 for the suspects to take plea, the defence team, again, asked for more time to look at the amended charges.
The suspects include a Pakistani businessperson Abdul Rehman Abdulla, who was one of the directors of Cotton Ginners Africa Limited (CGAL) and they are suspected to have defrauded the banks through dubious loans.
They are facing charges ranging from fraud to forgery.
The banks—Standard Bank plc, Ecobank Malawi, National Bank of Malawi plc (NBM) and CDH Investment Bank (CDHIB) and Export Development Fund (EDF), a government financing arm for exports—were defrauded of at least K20.9 billion after Rehman Abdulla obtained loans and fled the country.
In February, the High Court’s Commercial Division Judge Michael Mtambo declined to declare bankrupt CGAL, a ruling which put the commercial banks at liberty to sell the assets of the company valued at K10 billion.
CGAL proprietor Abdul Kader Patel sought the bankruptcy application to allow the company reorganise and start repaying the loans.
But the banks objected to the application, opting to sell the assets.
The major victims of the fraud were Standard Bank which is owed K8.5 billion followed by CDHIB (K4.5 billion), EDF (K4.1 billion), Ecobank Malawi (K3.5 billion) and NBM (K250 million).