Malawi: Defense in Fisd Case Demands More Evidence

12 January 2022

Defence lawyers in a case involving four FISD directors have pleaded with the court to ask the state to produce documentation on allegations that FISD induced double payment from the African Development Bank (ADB).

The defence raised the issue Tuesday afternoon as the hearing for the case continued before the Lilongwe Senior Resident Magistrate (SRM) Florence Msekandiana.

"The state alleges that our clients induced the bank to make double payment. We are saying for the bank to make such payment there must be documentation.

"We need documentation which proves that indeed the payment was induced otherwise the allegation has no basis without such evidence. We made this plea before and we raised it again so that the court should make a formal order." explained Burton Phiri one of the defence lawyers in the case.

Msekandiana also granted the state their wish to add FISD as an accused- to the case.

This follows an application from the state which asked for inclusion of FISD since payment was made to the institution itself.

The FISD directors were arrested in November 2020 but were only formally charged in July last year.

The four are accused of receiving double payment for the same work from a public project financed by the African Development Bank (ADB).

FISD lawyers argue that the double payment was just an error by the bank and was corrected internally.

One of the two witnesses paraded so far Kondwani Msowoya who is a coordinator on a the ADB funded which engaged FISD told the court that the double payment was nothing out if criminal intention but an error of the bank.

Msowoya said when the error was noted they wrote the contractor about it and the contractor acknowledged receipt of the double payment and committed to pay back.

"So, personally I didn't think there was any criminal intention," Msowoya told the court last December.

One interesting aspect of this case is that the ADB itself, which should have been a complainant, is not part of the case and, as crucial as they are, they are not appearing on the witness list.

The defence, in earlier session, demanded the inclusion of the bank as a witness in the case.

But senior state advocate Pirirani Masanjala expressed some doubt on this on whether the Bank will be included as a witness.

The ministry of Agriculture, with funding from ADB, awarded the FISD a K2.4 billion contract to construct, rehabilitate and expand gravity-fed water supply systems in Ntcheu District.

Senior Magistrate Florence Msekandiana has adjourned the case to Wednesday January 12, 2022.

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