The Blantyre Magistrate’s Court has shifted to September 10th , plea taking for Mapeto David White Head and Sons senior officials, in their tax evasion case.
Initially the company’s senior officials were set to enter plea today, but the defense team has asked the court that the process be done after disclosures.
Members of the fabric manufacturer’s senior management, are accused of evading tax amounting to K32 billion.
The 5 Mapeto senior officials were initially accused of defrauding the government of K10.8 billion in taxes, but the figure was later revised to K16.4 billion.
Now, the State has again revised the amount upward to K32 billion after factoring in appropriate penalties and interests.
There are 15 counts levelled against the accused persons which include conspiracy to commit customs offenses, interfering with goods under customs control, smuggling and altering of false documents.
Other charges are money laundering as well as evasion of Value Added Tax and non-remittance of Pay-As-You-Earn levies.
The five are director, Faizal Gaffar Latif; Managing Director, Mohamed Gaffar; Financial Controller, Abdul Rashid Bakali; Procurement Manager Muhammad Yaseen and General Manager, Martin Mpata.
Two officers of the Malawi Revenue Authority; George Mwaluka and Tsepiso Kaunda are also among the suspected offenders.
The two MRA officers are accused of aiding and abetting smuggling, contrary to section 133 (c) and 142,including conspiracy to commit customs offenses contrary to section 132 of the Customs and Exercise Act of the Laws of Malawi.
State lawyer Anthony Chungu added three more persons to the charge sheet namely: Zarina Latif, Kamplesh Raichand and Dilip Pancherywala.
“Following the investigations that have been undertaken we discovered that some more directors among them Latif, were left out, hence amending the charge sheet to include them,”Chungu highlighted.
The move prompted the defense team comprising Jai Banda, Clement Mwala and Fostino Mayere to insist on plea taking to occur after the disclosures to avoid further amendments to the charge sheet.
“We want our clients to understand the charge sheet better and also if we raise any objections to the charge sheet we want to avoid any amendments and re-amendments to the charge sheet hence plea taking be done after the disclosures,” Banda explained.
Granting the request, Chief Resident Magistrate Jean Kayira adjourned the case and gave both parties 14 days to effect amendments to the charge sheet before plea taking.
Hearing in the matter is scheduled to run from 20 to 24 September, with ruling on objections to the charge sheet set for 31 August.