Karim pleads not guilty in K2.7bn police ration case

Karim pleads not guilty in K2.7bn police ration case

Businessperson Zameer Karim and a Malawi Police Service (MPS) accounts in-charge Grant Kachingwe have pleaded not guilty to charges placed against them in the K2.7 billion police food ration deal.

The two have been charged with conspiracy to use public office for one’s advantage, money laundering, theft and forgery in a case the two and former police director of finance the late Innocent Botomani are accused of conspiring to use public office to award the food rations contract to Karim’s Pioneer Investment.

The suspects appeared before the High Court in Lilongwe yesterday where they pleaded not guilty to all the counts.

Karim walks out of court after the adjournment

Following the plea of not guilty, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) started parading witnesses.

One of the three witnesses paraded yesterday, former Police Inspector General Lexten Kachama, told the court that he was not aware of any contract renewal document that MPS and Pioneer Investment had signed to supply 500 000 food ration packs.

He said the stamp on the document also indicates a position of officer-in-charge Police headquarters, which does not exist in the MPS establishment.

“The position is strange to me. At the Police headquarters, there is no such position. The positions that are at the headquarters are Inspector General of Police and Deputy Inspector General of Police,” said Kachama.

The former Police IG later presented a bid submission sheets for the ration packs contract which showed that the contract agreement between Pioneer Investment and MPS was made a month before bidders made their bid submissions.

According to the court documents, the contract had already been awarded to Pioneer Investment on June 15 2015 while the tender opening was done on July 14 2015.

The bid submission sheet for Star Traders was signed on July 13 2015 while bid submission sheet for ZS indicated July 14 2015.

Magic Wholesalers bid submission sheet showed July 14 2015. Bid submission sheet for Lilongwe General Dealers was signed on July 14, 2015 while bid submission sheet for Pioneer Investment was signed on July 14 2015

“It shows that the bid submissions sheet was signed after contract was awarded,” said Kachama.

The bid submission documents had the same reference number with the between Pioneer Investment contract and MPS.

Due to time factor, the ACB asked for an adjournment to have the case continued today, when Kachama is expected to continue testifying and be cross-examined on the evidence he presented in court.

Yesterday, ACB lawyer Clement Mwala indicated that the late Botomani has been maintained on the charge sheet for possible recovery of assets.

However, judge Anabel Mtalimanja said Botomani is not around to defend himself; hence, the State should not use direct evidence against him. She said if evidence is indirectly related then it can be used.

Mtalimanja added that if the State will have to recover assets, it will have to be through separate court proceedings and not from the case at hand.

ACB arrested Karim, Botomani and Kachingwe in 2018 in connection with the ration packs contract. The three were granted a court bail.

The post Karim pleads not guilty in K2.7bn police ration case appeared first on The Nation Online.

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