State withdraws criminal charges against Paramount Holdings directors, company

Prakash Virji Ghedia, he can now afford a smile

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has withdrawn criminal charges it placed on three directors of Paramount Holdings Limited (PHL) and the company itself.

In a court notice dated March 19, 2024, addressing PHL directors and company, said the state has no case for them, hence withdrawing.

DPP Masauko Edwin Chamkakala confirmed the development but refused to disclose reasons for the discontinuation of the cases.

In July 2021, police arrested and charged the three directors, Prakash Virji Ghedia, Arvindkumar Atit Patel and Suresh Khimji Jagatiya, and the company itself, with three counts.

The counts included conspiracy to commit a felony contrary to Section 404 of the Penal Code, making and uttering false documents, which aided them to win a contract.

This followed an allegation by Hendrix Laher of Luthando Holdings Limited – apparently a business competitor – made to the Fiscal Police that Ghedia, Patel, Jagatiya and Paramount Holdings Limited had uttered a false document to the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Health, Kamuzu University of Health Sciences, UNC Project and JPHIEGO to win tenders for the supply of motorcycles showing that Paramount Holdings Limited is an authorized dealer of Yamaha motorcycles in Malawi on behalf of Yamaha Company Limited on Japan.

The facts surrounding the matter were that JHPIEGO advertised in the newspaper for a request for quotation to supply them with 20XTZ and 10DT125 Yamaha motorcycles.

Paramount Holdings Limited and Luthando Holdings Limited were among those who submitted their quotations.

On 7 July 2020, Laher found out that the contract had been awarded to Paramount Holdings Limited. Apparently, this did not please Laher who reported to the Fiscal and Fraud Section of the Malawi Police Service, alleging that Ghedia had used a fake certificate of authorization from Yamaha licensed dealer to win the contract.

Thus, the police arrested and charged Ghedia and others pending commencement of the criminal proceedings in the matter.

But for three times, the complainant – Luthando Holdings Limited – did not appear before the court.

Eventually, on March 19, 2024, Chamkakala wrote legal counsel, Marshall Chilenga, who represented Ghedia, his co-accused, and the company, notifying him about the discontinuation of the case.

“It is hereby certified in exercise of the powers conferred by section 77 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code that the State enters discontinuance of the aforementioned charges against the named accused persons,” reads the letter in part.

This means PHL is now at liberty to bid any tender without any criminal records.

However, in an interview, Chamkakala refused to reveal reasons for the discontinuation of the case.

“I’m not at liberty to discuss reasons for this decision,” he responded.

In a separate interview, Chilenga also confirmed receiving the notification from DPP about the state’s decision to discontinue the case against his client.

He added that Yamaha South Africa confirmed documents were genuine and that there was nothing wrong for Paramount Holdings Limited to use them to secure business in Malawi.

Yamaha Japan in 2022 certified Paramount Holding as its sole official distributors and seller of Yamaha motorcycles and associated products.

Currently, PHL’s competitors are in court to challenge Yamaha Japan over certification.

Luthando and others have been bidding contracts in Malawi by using South Africa’s Yamaha agent, which is contrary to tendering procedures.

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