Tuesday, April 16

I am not a crook— Mulli


Businessperson and National Bus Services Chairperson Leston Mulli on Tuesday told the court that his bus company legally got bus depots and workshops that were previously owned by State-owned Shire Bus Lines.

Mulli, who was cross-examined by Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda in the bus depots case, insisted that the government gave the company the bus depots

“I am not a crook. The bus depots were given to the company to run,” Mulli said.

When asked by Chakaka Nyirenda whether National Bus Services remitted any funds collected from the depots and workshops to the government, Mulli said it did not.

According to Mulli, some of the proceeds collected from the depots and workshops were used to manage and maintain the assets.

Chakaka Nyirenda said the government wants to recover about K8 billion from National Bus Services Limited which is money from rentals, depot fees and lodge payments realised during the period Mulli was operating the assets.

He insisted that the company illegally took over the bus depots.

“These were assets that were legally under law in the hands of the liquidator; so, the liquidator was supposed to transfer those assets to [the] holding company and he never did. From the memorandum of understanding, there was nowhere saying that the depots be given to the company. This was pure theft,” Chakaka Nyirenda said.

In court, Mulli said there was a meeting at the Ministry of Finance, where it was agreed that the bus company be granted the authority to operate the bus depots and workshops, adding that the Public Private Partnerships Commission also issued them a letter, which Mrs Audrey Mwala allegedly signed, to that effect.

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But the Attorney General said Mwala failed to declare interest as her husband was working with Mulli Brothers Limited He said, as such, her decisions could have been conflicted.

“What we are saying is that, on one hand, there is a wife who is making decisions that are favourable to the bus company and, on the other hand, there is a husband working for Mulli Brothers Company. So, there are issues of conflict of interest. Of course, he has said she joined later but we say she could have disclosed interest,” Chakaka Nyirenda said.

The court summoned Mrs Audrey Mwala to appear before it but the defence said they have not managed to get to her to testify and, for progress’ sake, they resorted to have other witnesses testify.

Lawyer representing Mulli, John Kalampa, has since said there was no abuse of office, adding that proper procedures were followed.

“There was no abuse of office because proper processes were followed. The Privatisation Commission wrote National Bus Services advising them to enter on the land and it was government itself that told the company to proceed. Mulli never influenced any officer,” Kalampa said.

Financial Crimes Court Judge Violet Chipao has adjournment the case to February 5 and 7 next year

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