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State House speaks on K65 million hotel bill

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State House has dismissed K65-million accommodation payment allegations that implicate Crossroads Hotel and foreign nations who are in the country to train security personnel on protection of Very Very Important People (VVIP).

Allegations were rife— with invoices flying around on social media platforms— that State House has been paying Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe for accommodation of an Israeli national Miguel Elias and three others from July 5 this year.

But Presidential Press Secretary Brian Banda said State House could not comment on the matter as the issue does not serve the interest of Malawians. He then dismissed the allegations as fake news.

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“Crossroads Hotel, as the owner of the invoices in question, has issued a press release stating that the story in question is false. As such, State House has no further comment to make on this matter, because dignifying fake news with a response does not serve the interest of Malawian people,” Banda said.

In a statement issued Monday, Crossroads Hotel management also dismissed the allegations as “not only inaccurate and incorrect in both content and context but also factually false”.

“The truth is that Crossroads Hotel has not received any Local Purchasing Order from State House nor has it received any payment from State House as alleged. The invoices are in guest’s name not the State House.

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“As a law abiding business entity, Crossroads Hotel does not condone corruption and theft of public funds. As such, Crossroads Hotel can, in no way, be used as a conduit to defraud the government,” reads part of the statement.

A source close to the matter who sought anonymity because the issue involves national security confirmed that the Israelis are indeed in the country to train officers from the Malawi Defense Force (MDF), the Malawi Police Service (MPS), National Intelligence Bureau and personal security personnel of President Lazarus Chakwera in VVIP close protection and that they were indeed residing at Crossroads Hotel.

He said the Israelis are doing the training together with their Malawian trainers from MDF and MPS, adding that 100 officers will be trained from the three institutions.

“There is nothing sinister about the bills; what people are circulating are mere invoices and State House has not paid the bills. In fact, the trainers have negotiated the rates down. If you go to the hotel now you will find that there are rooms at $300,” the source said.

The source said the trainers from Israel have overstayed in the country because of issues of Covid-19.

According invoices from Crossroads Hotel which The Daily Times has seen, the hotel has been charging $300 (roughly K225,000) per day per room from July 5.

It is reported that about K6.2 million is paid to the hotel every week on top an additional K5.1 million for car rentals and daily allowances for the four.

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