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Khato’s Simbi Phiri fights for unfreezing of accounts

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THE Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) in Botswana has said South Africabased Malawian billionaire, Simbi Phiri, followed the right procedure when he requested for foreign currency which he ferried to Botswana from South Africa.

Simbi Phiri, who became prominent in Malawi after his company Khato Civils Limited was awarded a contract to tap water from Salima to Lilongwe, had his bank account  in Botswana partially frozen on allegations of money laundering.

But in an article that appeared in Mmegi newpaper on Friday, DCEC investigating officer, Mompokosi Snax Rapulane, told the court in an affidavit on Wednesday that the South African central bank had given the nod to Phiri to transfer the money amounting to P24million between 2010 and 2014 to set up Khato Civils in Botswana.

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Simbi Phiri dragged DCEC to court to fight for the unfreezing of his bank accounts.

“My client had incurred debts of over P6 million that needed to be cleared, over and above funds the funds needed to run company operations,” Khato’s lawyer Tengo Rubadiri is reported to have told the court.  When contacted for confirmation, spokesperson for Khato Civils, Taonga Botolo, said the statement made by DCEC had “cleared the mist.”

“It is heartening that now that justice has prevailed. Phiri has maintained his innocence amid these money laundering allegations and now that the investigating officer said the money is clean, it is an opportunity for Phiri and Khato to concentrate energies on projects such as Lake Malawi water supply. Phiri has never been involved in illicit business,” Botolo said.

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The awarding of the Salima Lilongwe Water project to Khato Civils continues to raise debate among Malawians with some thinking the project must continue while others questioning the absence of an environmental  and social impact assessment.

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