The State has moved to seek an out of court settlement in a K16.5 billion tax evasion case involving Mapeto David Whitehead & Sons (DWS) executives and others two years after taking the matter to court.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Masauko Chamkakala made the State’s intentions known in a letter dated October 17 2023 to the registrar of the High Court of Malawi and Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal.
Reads the letter in part: “As intimated, the reason for this application is to allow the State and the Accused persons to pursue possible settlement out of court. As directed by the honourable court, we will be reporting to the court on the way forward on 16th November 2023.”
But on Friday, after both parties appeared in the judge’s chamber, Chamkakala and one of the lawyers representing the accused persons John-Gift Mwakhwawa refused to share what transpired in court.
“We don’t want people, including you the media, to know about this issue. That is why it is a chamber matter,” said Chamkakala.
But The Nation learnt that during Friday’s proceedings, the defence filed two applications, including one asking forthe release of goods which Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) impounded in 2021 in connection with the case.
The DPP is said to have not objected to the accused persons’ application, stating that parties to the case were showing goodwill to resolve the matter.
In his ruling, presiding High Court Judge Joseph Chigona observed that releasing the goods now would not be proper because the criminal proceedings were still in progress.
The court has since adjourned the case to December 18 2023 when the DPP is expected to formally file for a notice of discontinuance of the case.
MRA on May 23 2021 pounced on Mapeto DWS Limited and senior executives for multiple cases of alleged tax evasion that was estimated at K10.8 billion which was later revised to K16.5 billion.
The Mapeto DWS executives include director Faizal Gaffar Latif, managing director Mohammed Gaffar, financial controller Abdul Rashid Bakali, procurement manager Yaseen Muhammad and general manager Martin Mpata. Others are Zarina Latif, Kamplesh Raichand and Dilip Pancherywala.
Further, police also picked MRA customs officers Tsepiso Kaunda who was based at Lilongwe Port and George Mwaluka based at Chiponde Border Post in Mangochi.
In December 2022, the High Court transferred the matter from criminal to revenue division. The case was committed to the High Court from the magistrate’s court on March 30 2022 following a decision by Chamkakala’s predecessor Steve Kayuni to issue a summary procedure to have the case moved