Malawi 'Guptas' Pioneer Investment At Centre of Forgery Scam

22 January 2018

It never rains but it pours for a company owned by filthy rich Asians, Pioneer Investment, which is now at the heart of a lucrative orged documents of senior government officials on supplier deals as Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is currently investing a a K567 million interest payout controversy with Malawi Police Service (MPS).

Nyasa Times understands from documents seen that Pioneer Investment which is being accused of fraud had some documents of contracts forged to enable them supply and get payments from government.

Malawi Police sources said they are investing leads on "fake paperwork" involving the company which supplied food rations to Police.

"Documents created by Pioneer Investment have been used in large numbers of fraudulent payments," a source said.

Secretary to Treasury Ben Botolo appearing before PAC last Saturday said on the arrears, it was not reflected in the contract but came about as a result of the police who had accepted invoices from Pioneer Investment which had a clear clause that demanded interest in case payment was delayed beyond a prescribed number of days.

Hesaid he had initially received instruction from the Auditor General to pay, only to put it on a second thought.

Botolo indicated that he will not make payment until further advice from either the Auditor General or the Attorney General.

"I know Pioneer is hating me... I have stood my ground not to make this payment until we verify issues raised. I am also surprised why the police has continued to deal with Pioneer which has always given them tough time," he explained.

When members demanded to know which was binding or superior between a contract--which was silent on interests and an invoice which demanded for the same--both Botolo and Auditor General Stepheson Kamphasa failed to satisfy the committee.

Kamphasa confused members even more when he said what the police possessed was more of an order than a contract, but Botolo contended that the invoice is as important as a contract and best for the police was to raise questions on the invoice than owning them.

"Did you, AG at any point in your investigation came across information or documentation regarding the arbitrary raising of the initial contract sum of K2.3 billion to almost K2.8 billion and if you did what did you make out of that?" questioned Peter Dimba legislator for Lilongwe South

In response, Kamphasa was apologetic to the committee that he and his officers never noted this anomaly--an answer which attracted the anger from members, some of whom openly questioned the AG's competences.

Dimba further argued that the raise and the demand for interest substantially means that government would pay twice because the raise in contract was meant to cater for the delay in payment.

But the Auditor General had to concede that his office had not noticed the raised amount, immediately apologising to the committee that he would check on the matter.

PAC chairperson Alekeni Menyani said Pioneer Investments needs to be investigated further.

Pioneer Investment IS a company linked to Zahir Karim, whose family is accused of corrupting state contracts through ties to Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe.

According to documents in possession of Nyasa Times, the company is claiming K567 million in interest for what it says was late payment from January 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017 for goods which were supplied to government after receiving advance payment.

Like the notorious Guptas of South Africa, the Karim family is controlling some state affairs as the the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government continues to be facinf allegations of corruption amid a worsening unemployment.

The inquiry is expected to conclude on Wednesday as PAC is scheduled to meet Pioneer Investment and the Attorney General Charles Mhango, who had not appeared before the committee, according to PAC chairperson Menyani.

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