The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (Cdedi) has written Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Masauko Chamkakala to tell Malawians why the State wants Mapeto David Whitehead & Sons (DWS) executives and others to settle the K16.5 billion tax evasion case out of court.
The human rights body has since given the DPP seven days to make public the terms for out of court settlement, failing which Malawians will “be forced to make their conclusion and decide to take action.”
In a twist of events, on October 17 2023, the DPP wrote the registrar of the High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal expressing intention that the State and the accused persons pursue the matter out of court.
Wrote Chamkakala in the letter: “As directed by the honourable court, we will be reporting to the court on the way forward on 16th November 2023.”
This followed the granting of an application the State made before the Chief Resident Magistrate in Blantyre to adjourn the revenue criminal cause number 11 of 2022; The Republic vs Faizal Gaffar Latif and others, being criminal case number 397 of 2021.
Last Friday, both parties appeared before presiding High Court Judge Joseph Chigona where the matter was adjourned again to December 18 2023 when the DPP is expected to formally file for a notice of discontinuance of the case.
But Cdedi in its letter to the DPP dated November 20 2023, observed the State’s action to discontinue the matter had attracted huge public interest since the matter was first reported by Nation Online on November 17 2023.
The fury on the social media comes at a time government is contemplating casting its tax net wider in the face of the shrinking revenue collection, amid the ballooning public debt and expenditure.
“In view of the above, and in line with the Access To Information (ATI) Act, Cdedi is requesting your office to make public the terms that have led to the out of court settlement agreement, within seven days, otherwise Malawians will be forced to make their own conclusion and decide to take action,” reads the letter.
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 Raich and and Dilip Pancherywala.
Further, police picked two MRA customs officers based at Lilongwe Port and and at Chiponde Border Post in Mangochi.