ACB awaits date in Zameer Karim case

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) says the K2.7 billion Malawi Police Service (MPS) food rations deal case involving businessperson Zameer Karim and two senior police officers is awaiting the court to set the date for hearing.

In a written response on Friday, ACB senior public relations officer Egrita Ndala said the graft-busting body was set to prosecute the case.

Karim getting out of court after an appearance

She said: “The ACB is waiting for the court to set a date for the hearing of the case between the State and Zameer Karim and others. Once we get the confirmation [on the dates], we will communicate.”

The three—Karim, Commissioner of Police Innocent Bottoman and Senior Superintendent Grant Kachingwe—are accused of conspiring to use public office for the advantage of Karim, trading as Pioneer Investments, to arbitrarily obtain K2.7 billion from Malawi Government.

The trio was arrested in December 2018 following revelations of suspected dubious transactions in the food rations contract.

The case generated public interest and pressure from various civil society organisations and opposition political parties.

In an interview yesterday, lawyer representing Karim, Frank Mbeta, said among other procedures, the suspects were expected to enter plea when the court sets the date.

“The State also applied to amend the charges so that will take place at that time. Also remember that the case, which was previously being handled at magistrate’s court jurisdiction, will now be heard in the High Court,” he said.

In January this year, the State applied for the amendment of charges against the three suspects as well as transferring the case from the magistrate’s court to the High Court.

Initially, the three were charged with various offences such as theft and acquiring proceeds of crime amounting to K466 million.

Records of case number 1586 of 2018 show that Karim and Bottoman were charged with three counts, respectively, while Kachingwe, the third accused person, faced one charge.

But the ACB later amended the charges to include money laundering, conspiracy, influencing the use of public office and use of public office for one’s advantage contrary to Section 25 b (1) of the Corrupt Practices Act.

Following the arrests, MPS interdicted Bottoman and Kachingwe. Bottoman was accused of having unilaterally made an undertaking and commitment to CDH Investment Bank for Karim to access a loan.

The case also generated intense public interest after a leaked ACB investigation report showed that Karim deposited K145 million in a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) bank account at Standard Bank whose sole signatory was President Peter Mutharika.

The party denied wrong-doing or that it benefitted from an alleged corruption deal, but later, through spokesperson Nicholas Dausi, made an undertaking to refund Karim’s donation.

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