- Suspects plead not guilty to the charges
- Hearing set to start on September 8
The State says it will parade 27 witnesses in the K7 billion Malawi Police Service food rations case against businessperson Zameer Karim and two others when hearing begins in the High Court on September 8.
In an interview at the court in Lilongwe yesterday, Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) special prosecutor Kamudoni Nyasulu confirmed the number of witnesses.
He said: “They [accused persons] took plea on Wednesday and if nothing changes, we are expecting trial to commence on 8th September. The case is being heard by Judge Dorothy DeGabrielle.
“We have lined up 27 witnesses. We are yet to obtain witness statements from some of the witnesses, but we will be able to do that before the date.”
When the matter came for plea on Wednesday, Karim alongside his co-accused—former Malawi Police director of finance Innocent Bottomani and deputy director of finance Grant Kachingwe—pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to abuse public office and money laundering.
In the case, Karim—trading as Pioneer Investments—is accused of conspiring with Bottomani and Kachingwe between December 14 2014 and September 19 2019 at the Ministry of Finance in Lilongwe and allegedly stealing K7 431 169 134 74 public funds.
In a related case, running concurrently at the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court, Karim alongside Ecobank Malawi head of domestic banking Victoria Chanza face fraud, forgery and uttering false document charges.
The second case, which is being prosecuted by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, has two witnesses to testify before the State completes its submissions.
Particulars of the second case show that Karim and Chanza in August 2015, using his companies—Oil and Protein Company Limited and Pioneer Investments—obtained a K150 million loan from Ecobank using forged documents with a promise to pay back the loan from proceeds of the police food ration deal but never did.
After the two witnesses complete their testimonies, the court will then rule whether Karim and Chanza have a case to answer.
Former president Peter Mutharika was also implicated in the food rations scandal after Karim donated K145 million of the proceeds to a bank account of the former governing Democratic Progressive Party fundraising account which Mutharika was the sole signatory.
However, the Anti-Corruption Bureau later cleared him of any wrongdoing.