Former Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) chief executive officer Collins Magalasi and three others who are answering fraud and money laundering charges, have pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of fraud and money laundering.
The four suspects, who include businessperson Dorothy Shonga-Nkhoma and two other Mera officials Patrick Maulidi and Bright Mbewe, yesterday appeared before chief resident magistrate Patrick Chirwa at the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court to take plea, having failed to do so on three previous occasions.
Chirwa read out the charges to the accused four. Of the 16 counts, Magalasi and Shonga-Nkhoma are each answering 10 counts while Mbewe and Maulidi are each answering four counts.
The suspects pleaded not guilty to all the counts placed against them.
Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Steve Kayuni has since said the State is ready to prosecute the matter and that it will parade nine witnesses to prove the case.
He said: “Since the suspects have pleaded not guilty, we would like to seek an adjournment. We are ready to prosecute the matter.”
The matter has has since been adjourned to April 27.
The four are jointly answering the first count of fraud other than false pretences.
They are suspected of inducing Mera’s Internal Procurement and Disposal Committee, between August 2019 and July 2020, to approve procurement of various items amounting to K 107 032 231 from Vink Enterprises owned by Shonga-Nkhoma, a business partner to Magalasi in D.C Brands Company.
On two other money laundering counts, Shonga-Nkhoma is suspected to have acquired K30 million for herself through her Standard Bank account number 9100002422422 but also transferred K6 million to Magalasi’ Standard Bank account number 9100001571297. For acquiring the K6 million, Magalasi is answering another count of money laundering.
Shonga-Nkhoma is also suspected to have used a TPIN number to clear 8 000 metres of cloth at Songwe Border Post in Karonga without the knowledge of the owner to evade value added tax . Magalasi and Nkhoma are jointly answering a count of making a false statement. They are also suspected to have used a dubious passport to open an account at CDH Bank.
Magalasi, Mbewe and Maulidi are suspected to have entered into a procurement contract in the name of Vink Enterprises for the supply of various items at inflated prices of more than full value of supplied goods leading to Malawi Government losing K157 258 995.
The three are further answering a count of public misprocurement through conduct of public officials, among other charges.