Crossroads Hotel has confirmed that State House paid K12.5 million for accommodation for four guests at its Lilongwe unit.
The confirmation by one of the hotel’s directors Sameer Sacranie last evening comes amid calls by
Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) for the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to establish whether public funds were used to fund $300 a night accommodation at the hotel for foreign guests whose mission was unclear.
Over the weekend, social media was awash with claims that State House was paying roughly K225 000 per night for four guests at the hotel’s Lilongwe unit.
Last evening, Crossroads Hotel issued a statement, saying the hotel has had no dealings with State House in connection with the said guests.
But the hotel company later withdrew that part of the statement, saying after checking their records; they had discovered that there was a cheque worth K12.5 million that was paid directly from a State House account.
Sacranie said after our enquiry, he had to check with responsible officers at the hotel and realised that
indeed Mr. Miguel had paid a K12.5 million, which was cheque from State House. He said when he asked Miguel last night about the State House cheque, Miguel said he was doing some work for State House; hence, the payment for his stay at the hotel.
Sacranie,however, insisted that the K12.5 million, so far, was the only
known payment from State House as Miguel had been paying on his own.
He said: “We have just noticed that one of the payments was a cheque from State House which was paid by Miguel.
“We thought it was his personal money, but when we were digging we found that one of the cheques, it was the only cheque, from State House because he has been paying cash all these days,” he said.
“In fact, I called Mr. Miguel this evening [yesterday] to my office and told him that we thought it was a personal cheque without knowing that it was a State House cheque and he said yes I gave a cheque of K12.5 million from State House because the activities I am doing here are funded by State House”.
Sacranie could not state the nationality of the four
guests even when the standard practice in hotels is to have guests fill in their personal details, including having a passport scanned if they are foreigners.
According to Sacranie, they could not do so because the guests were locally booked by another guest he identified as Mr. Miguel of Chitundu Distributors.
“Mr. Miguel booked for
them and paid for them. Who these people were we do not know so we recorded details for the one who was booking,” he said.
Sacranie said the guests were initially accommodated in suites that cost $350 per night, but were offered $300 after negotiations.
“They stayed in those rooms just for about seven to eight days before they asked to be moved to other rooms which cost $90 per night and they were in these rooms for about a month. Mr. Miguel, who booked them, was in a $300 room, but he has asked us to move him to a cheaper one and he is still at the hotel,” he said.
On whether the hotel was interested to know what business Miguel and the visitors were into after staying at the hotel for a long time, Sacranie said it was none of the hotel’s business.
He said: “If someone seeks
our services, we assist them accordingly. Miguel paid for these services so why should we ask questions?”
Sacranie’s responses to our questions were more detailed than the statement which had only distanced State House from the sponsorship.
Reads the Crossroads statement: “The truth is that Crossroads Hotel has not received any local purchasing order from State
House nor has it received payment from Statehouse as alleged in the said false story. As a law abiding business entity, Crossroads Hotel does not condone corruption and theft of public funds.”
In a separate interview last night, presidential press secretary Brian Banda said State House could not make a comment on the matter as this would be “dignifying fake news”.