K20bn ‘Bankgate’ suspect reapplies for bail

 

A Pakistani national accused of defrauding local banks over K20 billion through loan facilities the company he worked for obtained reapplied for bail at the High Court in Blantyre on Tuesday.

The same court, presided over by Judge Sylvester Kalembera earlier on October 17, denied Abdul Rehman Abdullah bail on grounds that he is a flight risk and that one of the offences he is facing, money laundering, attracts a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Abdullah, who was represented by lawyers Faustino Mayere and Luciano Mickeus, said he wanted to make the bail reapplication since the State was asking for 60 days extension to conclude investigations.

Set Monday for hearing: Kalembera

His lawyers argued that owing to the prevailing circumstances that the State was asking for more time, their client should be allowed to be released on bail.

The accused declined to take plea as it was scheduled, opting to make the bail reapplication.

But the State, which was being represented by Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) lawyer Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda, CDH Investments company secretary Dan Mangwela, Senior State Advocates Andrew Salamba, Chikumbutso Masanjala and Sempho Likongwe, said the application to extend time was based on the fact that money that was taken out of the country by the accused was moved to Pakistan, Dubai and other places, and investigators would have to get to these places.

The judge also set November 14 to rule whether to grant the 60 days the State wants to finish their investigations.

Kalembera set next Monday to hear the bail reapplication.

Abdullah, a businessperson and managing director of Cotton Ginners Africa Limited (CGAL), who allegedly fled to Pakistan after his company defrauded the banks, returned to Malawi on September 18 this year following a warrant of arrest against him.

His disappearance in April forced the remaining directors at CGAL to apply for bankruptcy at the Commercial Court in Blantyre, which the banks challenged.

The banks affected are Standard Bank Limited, Reserve Bank of Malawi’s Export Development Fund, Ecobank Malawi Limited, CDH Investment Bank and National Bank of Malawi.

According to court documents, the total amount at stake is K20 903 508 825, but it has also been established that the total liabilities for Cotton Ginners Africa Limited is K23 656 808 338, with the company’s total assets pegged at K10 011 666 092.  n

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