Malawi: Zameer Karim's K150m Case Drags On

6 October 2021

As the High Court in Blantyre sentenced renowned Malawian business mogul, Thom Mpinganjira to nine years imprisonment for attempted corruption, Asian businessman Zameer Karim's corruption case keeps on dragging.

The High Court in Lilongwe last Friday reserved its ruling to a later date on a petition in which the State is applying for the introduction of an additional charge of money laundering to Zameer Karim's case.

The case is being heard by Judge Dorothy DeGabrielle, the same judge who has sentenced Thom Mpinganjira to 18 years prison on two counts, nine years for each count but to run concurrently.

While Zameer Karim committed his offences in 2014 was only arrested almost five years later and his cases are yet to be finalised, while Mpinganjira who committed his offence four years after Karim in 2019 has his case done and dusted after his in January 2018 and is now incarcerated in prison.

A legal expert in the justice system speaking on anonymity told Nyasa Times in an interview that while Mpinganjira's attempted corruption case was handled with a meteorite speed, Zameer Karim's case is taking all the time at a snail's pace.

"Two separate cases involving a Malawian business mogul and an Asian business tycoon both on corruption, the same judge but treated with different speed?

"Of course, the two cases are different but both are corruption cases although one is just an attempted offence and yet one case is just dragging on. Perhaps, the judge need to speed up the other case like she did with the other one otherwise people will start to smell a rat," said the legal expert.

Karim together with Victoria Chanza, EcoBank head of domestic banking, are accused of forging police documents, which helped them secure a K150 million loan from the bank under the pretext that Karim has had a contract with the Malawi Police Service.

The two face fraud, forgery and uttering false document charges.

In this case, which is being prosecuted by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, has two witnesses to testify before the State completes its submissions.

Particulars of the case show that Karim and Chanza in August 2015, using his companies--Oil and Protein Company Limited and Pioneer Investments--obtained a K150 million loan from Ecobank using forged documents with a promise to pay back the loan from proceeds of the police food ration deal, but he never did.

Former president Peter Mutharika was also implicated in the food rations scandal after Karim donated K145 million of the proceeds to a bank account of the former governing Democratic Progressive Party fundraising account which Mutharika was the sole signatory.

However, the Anti-Corruption Bureau later cleared Mutharika of any wrongdoing.

In another case, Karim alongside the now deceased former Malawi Police director of finance, the late Innocent Bottomani and deputy director of finance Grant Kachingwe --stand accused of conspiracy to abuse public office and money laundering.

In the case, Karim--trading as Pioneer Investments--is accused of conspiring with Bottomani and Kachingwe between December 14, 2014 and September 19, 2019 at the Ministry of Finance in Lilongwe and allegedly stealing K7 431 169 134 74 billion of public funds.

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