Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) Governor Charles Chuka and two of his senior managers risk arrest for contempt of court after the High Court in Blantyre granted a businessperson the green light to commence proceedings.
Blantyre-based Pakistani national Muhammed Jawad wants Chuka, the central bank’s general counsel and bank secretary Samuel Malitoni and legal officer Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda arrested for ignoring an earlier High Court order to refund him K185 million ($269 970).
Jawad was convicted last August on charges of illegal possession attempting to externalise money after being arrested at Chileka Airport in Blantyre.of foreign currency and
He was found with foreign exchange concealed in his travelling bag amounting to $269 970.
But Jawad pleaded not guilty to the charge of money laundering.
In a signed committal order, the High Court registrar on May 6 2016 granted leave to Jawad’s lawyer Lusungu Gondwe to move the court to file a motion for order for committal to prison of the governor and two others for contempt of court following RBM’s failure to implement the court order.
The committal order said the three—Chuka, Malitoni and Chakaka Nyirenda—intentionally disobeyed the order of the court, saying the trio hugely undermined the authority of the court.
Reads the committal order: “That the appellant do cause the motion for committal to be entered for hearing within 14 days from the date hereof in accordance with order 52 rule 3 sub-rule 2 of the rules of the Supreme Court a motion for committal of alleged contemnors.
“The alleged be committed to prison or the applicant be at liberty to issue a writ of sequestration to sequester all the real and personal property of the said defendant, alleged contemnor, or the said alleged contemnors be ordered to pay a fine and be imprisoned in default.”
In a telephone interview yesterday, Gondwe said on April 28 2016 High Court judge Kenyatta Nyirenda ordered the central bank to refund the sum of $269 970 to Jawad and that he applied for the arrests of the RBM officials for contempt of court.
He said the judge ruled in favour of Jawad when he appealed against a magistrate’s court decision to forfeit Jawad’s
of money, observing that the magistrate court was harsh.
Said Gondwe: “We appealed because we feel the case was a felony, not a serious one. We also feel he was punished already when he paid the fine and that the case was a victimless. The judge agreed with us and ruled that the money be refunded.”
In a telephone interview also yesterday, Chakaka Nyirenda said the central bank was challenging the High Court ruling to refund Jawad his money because RBM feels the judge did not properly apply the law to the facts and he misdirected himself.
He said: “We are also challenging the contempt case because we feel since there is an appeal to judge Nyirenda’s ruling, the law provides for automatic stay of orders to that effect.”
In August 2015, Blantyre senior resident magistrate Esther Bodole convicted Jawad for illegal possession of foreign currency amounting to $269 970 and fined him K950 000. Bodole further ordered forfeiture of the money to government.
Jawad pleaded guilty to illegal possession and attempting to transfer forex illegally out of the country, but he pleaded not guilty to money laundering despite the count finding that he had a case to answer.
In the skeleton argument for the contempt of court, Gondwe said argued that the alleged contemnors have consciously and contumeliously neglected, failed, ignored, refused or omitted to obey the said court order there by hugely undermining the rule of the law of the court.