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India, Malawi in spat over investor

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T he government of India through its High Commission in Malawi has asked the Malawi Government to make clear its intentions pertaining to the actions instituted by government agencies on an Indian national, Chandrashekhar More.

More, who is an investor in Malawi, had a case instituted by the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) against him for non-filling of tax returns since his return to Malawi on March 21, 2017.

According to a letter addressed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, which Malawi News has seen, More returned to Malawi to challenge the court cases filed against him and was informed to attend court hearing.

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However, MRA officials did not turn up for the court hearing on three occasions.

“On 10/05/2017, the MRA issued another warrant of arrest against him. After serving of arrest warrant, the police authorities took More to Area 3 Police Station on 10/05/2017. The next day (11/05/2017) in the morning immigration officials took him to immigration offices despite there being no immigration case against him and kept him there till evening.

“When the High Commission informed the esteemed ministry, immigration stopped further action and he was sent back to the police where he spent a night there. The following day (12/05/2017) immigration officials took him direct to the airport and deported him with a tag of ‘Prohibited Immigrant,’ reads the letter.

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The High Commission has since asked the government to conduct a thorough investigation into circumstances leading to the arrest and deportation of More with a “Prohibited Immigrant” tag.

“Malawi laws are to be fully respected and adhered to by an investor, threats/action of arrest in a civil case appear to be a case of harassment and intimidation. Moreover, in terms of Vienna Convention the Mission is not being informed of such arrests and deportation which is being seen by the authorities in India as not auguring well in promoting India-Malawi bilateral relations.

“The High Commission would appreciate if the results of the investigation by the Malawi Government are kindly conveyed to the Mission at the earliest possible [time] for our necessary action,” reads the letter.

The High Commission questions the collaborated actions of government agencies, further arguing the role of the Immigration Department was not understood in the matter against More.

India further warns that such actions would hinder the country’s efforts to attract investors.

“It is shocking that the Immigration Department deported More, an investor, with a Prohibited Immigrant tag, without any case against him or producing any documentation in this regard. The Malawi Government has been making best efforts to attract investors including [those] from India. However, such instances will only hamper such efforts,” it reads.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Francis Kasaila, confirmed receiving the letter but said the ministry is yet to respond to the issues raised.

“Our job as a ministry is to pass on the letter to the relevant authorities which, in this case, are the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security, the police, and the Malawi Revenue Authority. So we expect the Ministry of Home Affairs and MRA to tell us what happened for the investor to be deported [and] then we will be better placed to respond to the issues raised by the High Commission,” Kasaila said.

Rumphi East Member of Parliament, Kamlepo Kalua, on Thursday raised a motion for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to comment on why the Indian High Commission is demanding diplomatic immunity for its deported citizen.

More was deported last month, two days after he was arrested for jumping bail.

He was initially arrested in 2015, in connection with tax evasion issues, and left for India after being granted permission to travel while on bail.

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