Two Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) employees have been implicated in the Mapeto David Whitehead and Sons tax evasion case.
This was disclosed in court when five senior officials at Mapeto appeared seeking bail Monday.
On Sunday, Mapeto Director Faisal Gaffar Latif handed himself over to MRA officials in Blantyre in the company of his lawyer Jai Banda. The remaining four officials are Mapeto Managing Director Mohamed Gaffar, Financial Controller Abdul Rashid Bakali, Procurement Manager Yaseen Muhamad and General Manager Martin Mpata, all of whom were arrested on Friday.
Yesterday, MRA lawyer Anthony Chungu objected to the five officials’ application for bail, further indicating that two MRA officials would be added to the case.
He did not disclose names of the officials.
Chungu argued that the application for bail was made rather prematurely as the State was yet to complete all the due processes, including cautioning all the suspects.
“Out of the two MRA officers who have been added to the case, one has just been partially cautioned. Latif himself has also not been cautioned,” he said.
Chungu also disclosed that, while the present case was being investigated, it came to MRA’s attention that another container of goods was imported into the country and its supporting documents were being tampered with.
He said all the accused persons had to be cautioned in that regard as well.
Making the case for bail of his clients, Banda, assured the court that the five were law-abiding citizens who would not jump bail.
“The primary concentration in a bail application, Your Worship, is whether the accused persons will avail themselves of the trial, which they will. The fifth accused, Latif, presented himself to MRA officers. All the accused persons, and especially the fifth accused, have high stakes in the country,” Banda said.
He added that three of the accused persons were aged over 60 years and were at a high risk of facing health problems if kept in police cells for long, citing proliferation of the Covid pandemic.
Blantyre Senior Resident Magistrate Akiya Mwanyongo reserved his ruling on whether to release the five accused persons on bail to today.
In an earlier interview, MRA spokesperson Steven Kapoloma said the Mapeto officials had been arrested in connection with three cases of tax evasion.
Kapoloma said Mapeto was being accused of smuggling and under-declaring items, citing the alleged declaration of finished raw materials as raw material to pay less tax.
“They have also been under-declaring their sales and Paye [Pay as You Earn]. They employed expatriates, paid them normal salaries but declared less to MRA,” he said.
In April this year, MRA obtained a warrant to search Mapeto offices, saying they had been tipped of the crimes in question.