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Admarc board bypassed in deal

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Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) management bypassed the parastatal’s board in buying maize from Zambia, The Daily Times has learnt.

According to information that we have, Admarc’s management only sought the board’s authorisation for it to obtain a loan from PTA Bank to purchase maize.

The board duly gave Admarc management the go, ahead but after the government also allowed Admarc to get the loan, management did not report to or seek authorisation from the board on the subsequent maize deal.

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Chairperson for the Admarc Board, James Masumbu, confirmed yesterday that the corporation’s management did not consult the board regarding who should supply the maize and at what price.

“In principle, we were consulted. But the fact is that the board was consulted to allow Admarc to borrow money from PTA Bank. Regarding what happened next after that process, we were not consulted,” Masumbu said.

When asked to justify why the board never took any action on Admarc’s management Chief Executive Officer, Foster Mulumbe, and his management team after they learnt about the dubious purchase of maize, Masumbu said:

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“We never learnt anything about this until last week Thursday when the stories started coming out in The Daily Times. By then our mandate had already expired and we could not do anything on the matter. Now that the board has been appointed, we will meet and see what we can do”.

Ironically, Mulumbe obtained an injunction from the High Court on December 29, 2016 restraining Times Group’s Blantyre Newspapers Limited from what the court document calls “Publishing any false and untrue stories about him and Admarc.”

The import maize deal has been exposed by Times as documents show that Admarc used a Zambian Private company Kaloswe Courier Limited as middlemen to purchase maize which means Admarc purchased the grain at a higher price than it could have had it bought directly from Zambian Cooperative Federation (ZCF).

The documents indicate that Admarc bought the maize from Kaloswe Ltd at $345 per metric tonne up from $215 per metric tonne that Kaloswe bought from ZCF.

In turn, Admarc paid Kaloswe $34.5 million for the whole consignment of 100, 000 metric tonnes which is equivalent to K25 billion up from the $21.5 million that Kaloswe Ltd paid ZCF which is equivalent to K15.5 billion. This means that government has lost close to K9.5 billion in the syndicate.

Meanwhile, President Peter Mutharika on Monday instituted a commission of inquiry to investigate the suspicious maize deal.

The commission will be led by retired chief justice Anastazia Msosa as Chairperson, and the other members are Solicitor General Janet Banda, Public Auditor Isaac Kayira and Mike Chinoko who will be the Commission’s Secretary.

In a related development, Mutharika has also appointed Admarc’s board whose members are Stain Singo, Paramount Chief Gomani, Jafali Mussa, Ken Ndanga, Chancy Gondwe, Milward Nyaungulu, Umderanji Mbandambanda, Secretaries for Agriculture and Treasury, and Comptroller for Statutory Corporations.

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