By Cathy Maulidi:
Judge Redson Kapindu of the Financial and Economic Crimes Division of the High Court has dismissed an application by businessperson Zuneth Sattar’s companies which sought to apply for a judicial review in a case where the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) wants to access some documents from the companies.
On November 29 2022, ACB Director-General Martha Chizuma issued the companies with notices to furnish the bureau with documents related to ongoing corruption investigations.
The notices required the companies— Xelite Strips Limited, Orion Investments Limited and Ocean Industries Limited— to furnish the ACB with the said documents within three working days from the date of service of the respective notices.
But through their lawyer Chancy Gondwe, the firms sought permission to apply for judicial review, claiming that ACB’s decision requiring them to produce documents after the bureau had already executed a warrant of search and seizure on them more than a year ago was unfair.
However, in his ruling, Kapindu has described the application as unsatisfactory and unfit.
The judge listed down several points which finally led to his rejection of the application.
“Having considered the totality of the facts, issues, the law and the circumstances of this matter, I find the application for permission to apply for judicial review herein unsatisfactory.
“No issues fit for further investigation at a full hearing of judicial review have been raised. The application for permission to apply for judicial review therefore fails and it is dismissed with costs,” the ruling reads.
Lawyer representing ACB, Benjamin Mandala, said the court’s decision means the three companies should now provide the bureau with the required documents.
“The documents are very important; they actually bring out the processes that were followed or the absence of some steps, because for one to acquire a piece of land, there are processes that are supposed to be followed.
“When we went to the Ministry of Lands, they told us the documents are not around; so, it was an issue of now giving them [the companies] a chance to give their side of the story,” Mandala said.
The matter is to do with plots owned by the companies which ACB suspects were not lawfully obtained and restricted the firms from accessing them.
Sattar, who is currently based in United Kingdom (UK), is accused of engaging in corruption with Malawi government officials, according to an investigation by the UK’s National Crimes Agency.