LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-The Lilongwe Magistrate Court has summoned three directors of Paramount Holdings Limited to answer three criminal charges contrary to the law governing the country.
The three directors are Prakash Virji Ghedia, Arvindikumar Atiti Patel, and Surej Khimji Jagatiya as the first, second, and third accused, respectively.
According to a charge sheet that we have seen dated August August 2, 2023, the three are accused by the state of offences surrounding conspiracy to make false documents and utter a false document showing that the company is an authorized dealer of Yamaha Motorcycles in Malawi.
Reads the first count: “Prakash Virji Ghedia, Arvindikumar Atiti Patel and Surej Khimji Jagatiya and Paramount Holdings Limited on or about August 2020, being Directors of Paramount Holdings Limited in Malawi and the company itself conspired to make false document and utter a false document showing that the company is an authorized dealer of Yamaha Motorcycles in Malawi.”
According to the summons sheet, the three also made a false document contrary to section 353 of the penal code as a second count.
The third count surrounds uttering false documents contrary to section 360 of the penal code.
Reads the third count in part: “On or about August 2020, being Directors of Paramount Holdings Limited in Malawi and the company itself uttered a false document to Ministry of Education, Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Health, Kamuzu University of Health Sciences, UNC Project and Jphiego to win tenders for the supply of motorcycles showing that Paramount Holdings is an authorized dealer of Yamaha Motorcycles in Malawi on behalf of Yamaha Company Limited.”
The Republic of Malawi is being represented by Messrs Gift Nankhuni and Partners.
Meanwhile, the three are expected to appear in person before the court on the 11th of August, 2023 at 10: 00 o’clock “and herein fail not.”
In February 2023, Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda told this publication that Paramount Holdings Limited was being investigated over the forgery of documents relating to supplying motorcycles.
He clarified that criminal investigations against Paramount Holdings were still ongoing relating to the forgery of documents that the accused company used to tender for the business of supplying motorcycles.
A few years ago, Capital Hill suspended Paramount Holdings and other companies following serious allegations of various procurement-related crimes that the companies committed.
In a letter dated January 27, 2023, which this publication saw, and was addressed to Malawi’s Deputy Ambassador to Japan Joseph Chikwemba, Chakaka wrote: “Although the suspension of Paramount Holdings Limited was lifted, investigations that led to the suspension of Paramount Holdings Limited are still on-going.”
“The results of the investigations would lead to a debarment hearing. If found guilty, Paramount Holdings may be debarred from participating in public procurement in Malawi. Further, although the suspension was lifted, Paramount Holdings Limited has not yet been cleared of any wrongdoing in respect of allegations of procurement-related malpractices against Paramount Holdings Limited,” Chakaka-Nyirenda was quoted in the letter titled “Status of Paramount Holdings in Malawi.”
Paramount Holdings, has been embroiled in a flurry of scams in Malawi involving billions of taxpayers’ money.
In 2018 and 2019, the local media was awash with stories that Ministry of Health (MoH) officials went behind the ACB to issue an MK4 billion Ambulance contract to Paramount Holdings despite enforcing institutions raising concerns.
The Government Contracting Unit (GCU) raised concerns about legal compliance issues surrounding the Paramount contract raised advised the MoH to consult the Attorney General before issuing the contract.
But the MoH proceeded to award Paramount’s contract without regard to procurement procedures. GCU has a mandate to vet high-value government contracts before they are awarded.
At some point, government officials went on a tour of countries to inspect ambulances – under the sponsorship of Paramount Holdings Limited.
However, the sponsoring of the trips made the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) raise eyebrows, describing the move as a “conflict of interest.”
In June 2021, local firms ganged up against Asian-owned Paramount Holdings, accusing the company of monopolizing the business of supplying items to Capital Hill by influencing government officials with monetary inducements.
Upon taking over the country’s presidency, Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera’s ordered that priority in the awarding of contracts must be given to indigenous businesses.
The directive, however, is still under intense debate as foreigners are still claiming huge chunks of business deals, at the expense of local businesses