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Fraud charge for Collins Magalasi, others

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Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) Chief Executive Officer Collins Magalasi and three others have been charged with three counts of fraud, money laundering and entering into a contract with an employee through a K107 million procurement deal.

A charge sheet that Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate Violet Chipao read Wednesday indicates that in August last year, the accused induced Mera’s Internal Procurement and Assets Disposal Committee to approve procurement of various items from Vink Enterprises owned by Dorothy Shonga Nkhoma, the third accused, who is also Magalasi’s business partner.

The second accused person is Mera Public Relations Officer Patrick Maulidi while the state is yet to disclose the identity of the fourth suspect but only referred to them as “another”.

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On money laundering, the accused are said to have “knowingly or having reasonable grounds to believe that money amounting to K107 million in whole or in part, directly represented proceeds of a predicate crime of fraud other than false pretences, converted the same with the aim of concealing the illicit origin of the said money”.

The four allegedly entered into a procurement contract with employees contrary to section 35 as read with section 63 of Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act.

Police Prosecutor Moja Phiri said the charges are subject to amendment as investigations continue.

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Phiri asked the court to consider remanding the suspects in order to allow the state to conclude investigations and that, among other things, the accused may interfere with the investigations if they are granted bail.

“There are several documents that are supposed to be sourced from the accused persons and the institution involved. The state sees it necessary that they remain remanded to avoid interference with the investigation. Magalasi and Maulidi are very aware of the witnesses and some are the ones that the accused have been working with,” Phiri said.

He added that the state is likely to have ten witnesses to interact with in the matter.

But lawyer for Magalasi Ian Malera led other two defence lawyers in applying for bail, arguing the state should have concluded the investigations before arresting the accused.

“The state should have shown much more than making an allegation. The fact that the suspects are known with each other doesn’t mean that they can influence investigations. There are no good grounds for the state’s prayer,” Malera said.

Meanwhile, Chipao has adjourned the matter to Friday for bail ruling.

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