LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-The hearing of a case involving four directors of the Foundation for Irrigation and Sustainable Development (FISD) failed to commence on Monday, November 8, 2021 due to the absence of the presiding magistrate.
The four directors including Kondwani Nanchukwa, Moses Chirambo, Frank Mwenechanya and Arthur Mpama—are being accused of defrauding the government about MK260 million (US$ 325, 731).
FISD lawyer Burton Phiri told The Maravi Post outside the court that the magistrate was preoccupied with other engagements.
However, it was communicated that the concerned parties would meet on Tuesday, November 9, 2021 to set a day for the hearing of the case.
The suspects pleaded not guilty to counts of money laundering, conspiracy to commit a felony and fraud.
After the failure of the court appearance, Lawyer Phiri observes that his clients are being disadvantaged over the case delays.
“The case delays is putting clients in an awkward situation on business because the public sometimes looks at the suspects as if they indeed committed the crime, which is affecting them,” says FISD lawyer.
The State is expected to start parading witnesses in case being presided over by Senior Resident Magistrate Florence Msekandiwana.
FISD Company Limited directors were arrested in November 2020 on allegations of conspiracy to defraud, theft by public servant, forgery, uttering false documents, obtaining money by false pretence and money laundering.
Since the FISD directors were arrested, their case has “overly” delayed because the state had been asking for “more time” in order to prepare formal charges.
Formal charges came after more than four “unfruitful” appearances during which the state had asked for adjournments in order to “wind up” investigations.
The arrests came after industrial court faulted Malawi government through Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development for unfairly terminating a contract for FISD Limited Company under contract No. 021/SRWIHL/W/2017/015a-LOT 1 for the rehabilitation, and expansion of three gravity fed water systems in Ntcheu district.
The project is titled “Sustainable Rural Water Infrastructure for Improved Health and Rural Livelihoods Project”.
The contract valued at MK2.4 billion commenced on December 12, 2017 and was supposed to complete on December 12, 2018.
This publication understands that towards project completion period FISD through the project consultant requested for contract extension as the client wanted the contractor to do some additional works which were not part of the initial contract.
After their arrest last year, the FISD directors were remanded to Maula prison for five days until their bails were granted on November 13, 2020.
On several occasions the state has been failing to show the court real charge sheet June 22, 2021.