LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-The case in which Malawi government leveled against four Fisd Limited Company directors on fraud failed to commence on Tuesday, April 6, 2021 in the capital Lilongwe as the presiding magistrate, senior resident magistrate Shyreen Chirwa, has reportedly been transferred to the industrial relations court.
The development comes a month after the state pleaded for 30 days to finalise investigation on matter for commencement of the case.
Criminal Cause No. 518 of 2020 is between Republic and Kondwani Charles Nanchukwa, Frank mwenechanya, Moses Chirambo, Arthur Mpama and Daudi Kaunda.
Gift Nakhuni the lawyer representing the four FISD Directors told The Maravi Post outside the court that even though the court last month ordered the state to submit any document related to the arrest of the directors to commence the case today, no such documents have so far been submitted.
The State prosecutor, for the case Levi Mangani confirmed to have not submitted the relevant documents as per court order as the presiding senior resident magistrate Court was moved to Industrial Relations court.
The spokes person for the Judiciary Gladys Gondwe, confirmed to have shifted Magistrate Chirwa from the Lilongwe magistrate court to Industrial Relations Court.
But Gondwe was quick to say that the magistrate transfer has nothing to do with non adherence to Court order on the case.
She further said immediately the magistrate is moved within the judiciary another magistrate is allocated and the said case has already a new magistrate.
FISD Directors were arrested on November 10, 2020 by Fiscal police and were remanded at Maula prison for Four days for a double payment erroneously paid by African Development Bank amounting to US$325,731.54 for a Water Construction Project implemented by Ministry of Agriculture Irrigation and Water development.
The State provided below as holding charges at the time the Four directors were arrested last year; forgery, Ultering a false document, Obtaining money by false pretence and Money laundering.
Since November, 2020, the Directors are yet to take plea as the state is yet to submit the formal charges. During bail ruling, the state prosecutor then Moja Phiri requested the state to commence the case on December 15, 2020.
The defence lawyer for the directors requested the court to consider that the state should at-least have submitted the disclosures before mention on December 15 2020.
Unfortunately although 15th December 15, was set for Mention, the state did not avail itself to the court.
Last month FISD lawyer Nakhuni filed an Application to discharge the case as generally the state has always not been serious starting from the actual charge sheet which had different values of US$ 325,731.54 as equivalent to MK623,000,000.
The file charges were merely read to the directors but were not asked to plead to the charges as the state stated that they were merely bringing the accused persons to inform them of the reasons why they were arrested.
In absence of charges, the directors are actually not supposed to be reporting to Police as is the case on bail conditions as they are not yet charged.
Failure to submit documents by December 15, 2020 and indeed failure of this set date by State is a sign that the state is not serious on reasons they arrested the directors.
In the application Gift filed in February 2021, he stated that his clients have a right to fair trial which include the right to be tried within reasonable time after being charged.
FISD deals with numerous international organisations who currently are skeptical to do business with FISD. When the court last met on March 6, 2021, the state requested 30 days to complete investigations.
The court ordered that within those days all documents related to the case should be submitted before 6th April, 2021 and that the case shall commence on April 6, 2021.
This is not the First time the state has given timelines to finish investigations. The State requested that the directors be on remind for 5 days to complete their investigations and the court granted the request.
They further requested a date of December 15, 2020 for mention, the court granted the request but never availed or let alone submit any documents related to the arrest.
Last month the state requested for 30 days to finalise the investigations and submit documents, the court granted the request but to no avail.
FISD limited Company is one of the leading Engineering Company owned 100% by Malawians.
Our investigations indicate that some lawyers and Engineers were recruited by their competitors to ruin the company reputation and brand as in the past few years it has being the only local company owned by indigenous Malawians actively participating on international Competitive Bidding of Irrigation and Water Supply major contracts.