Zambia: I Met Rupia Banda, Says Locci

A TECHNICAL director at Fratelli Locci has testified in a magistrate's court that he met former Republican President Rupiah Banda at State House to discuss his company's intention to undertake road construction projects.

Alexandro Locci, who is based in Italy, said Andrew organised a meeting which took place at State House because his company was interested in investing in Zambia.

This is in a case involving business executive Antonnelo Locci and Andrew Banda, who are jointly facing corruption charges arising from road contracts under the MMD Government in which the son of the former Head of State is alleged to have agreed to earn two per cent on all payments.

Alexandro, 39, son of the accused person, told Lusaka Chief Resident Magistrate Joshua Banda yesterday that Andrew organised a meeting at which Fratelli Locci SRI, a construction firm, was introduced to the former Head of State.

Alexandro said he was in the company of Fratelli Locci consultant Elisi Paulo when he met with the former President.

This is in a matter in which Banda, 52, and Locci, 73, director at Fratelli Locci, are jointly charged with two counts of gratification for giving assistance on contracts.

Particulars in the first count are that Banda, being first secretary at the Zambian Embassy in Italy and later Deputy High Commissioner to India, solicited and agreed to receive gratification from Locci amounting to two per cent of all money paid to Fratelli Locci SRI by the Road Development Agency (RDA).

It is alleged in the second count that Locci in 2011 in Lusaka agreed to give gratification to Banda amounting to two per cent of all money paid to his firm by RDA.

Alexandro told the court when the matter came up for continued trial that at the time of the State House meeting, Fratteli Locci had not been awarded a contract by RDA.

He said in examination-in-chief led by Director of Public Prosecutions Mutembo Nchito that his role in the company involved offering technical checks.

He said he had another meeting with Andrew, RDA officials including the late RDA board chairperson Luambe Mondoloka and a Mr Nyangu who had travelled to Italy to check on Fratelli Locci operations in that country.

Alexandro, however, denied that he or Mr Paulo gave a gift or money to RDA or Mr Rupiah Banda for the Italian company to be awarded a contract to rehabilitate roads on the Copperbelt.

When asked whether his father had paid RDA to get the tender, Alexandro said he would not be in a position to know because his position was that of a technical adviser.

When asked in cross-examination on who organised the meeting between his company and State House, Alexandro said he was told by Mr Paulo that the meeting was arranged by Andrew.

He said did not know whether Andrew was in the country at that time.

He told the court that he first came to Zambia in 2006 to visit friends and an Italian business executive, a Mr Ghiradi.

Alexandro said although he knew about Andrew in 2006, he only came to meet him in 2009 at the Zambian Embassy in Italy.

Trial continues tomorrow.

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