Friday, July 19, 2024

Salima Sugar Chairperson Arrested, Three Others Flee the Country

Police in Lilongwe have once again arrested former Chairperson of Salima Sugar Company Limited, Shirieesh Betgiri following new revelations of financial fraud at the company which place him at the centre.

Betgiri was intially arrested in June this year and was released on Court bail after appeal.  On 23rd June 2023, Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate Madalitso Chimwaza dismissed betgiri’s bail application it would not be in the interest of justice to release the accused on bail at that stage of the matter, and directed the accused to be remanded in custody for seven days pending state investigations. The State, however, was not prudent on the investigations and the expiry of the seven days resulted into a successful appeal for bail.

On 5th December, the Attorney General of Malawi, Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda, conducted a press briefing in which he chronicled financial crimes and other criminal misdeeds committed at Salima Sugar Company Limited where the Government is a shareholder.  The press briefing came hot on the heels of an audit report which Government instituted.

Four warrants of arrest have been obtained so far and while one relating to Betgiri has been executed, three other warrants are yet to be executed against three other suspects namely Henri Njoloma, Prashant Sharma, Vikas Hirawatt and Sachin Nikam, all of whom are feared to have fled the country.

National Police Publicist, Peter Kalaya, said police will work with Interpol and various international agencies to apprehend the other suspects.

“Let me assure Malawians that those who travelled outside the country will be cornered as we work with our international sister agencies like Interpol,” Kalaya said.

The forensic audit report which the Attorney General had earlier recommended is indicating that the Indian private investors who entered into joint venture with the Government through the Greenbelt initiative have defrauded the government of billions of Kwachas.

According to Kalaya, the suspects will answer charges ranging from uttering false documents, forgery, cheating, conspiracy to defraud and money laundering.

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