… Kapondamgaga Hands Back ‘Sattar Vehicle’, Funds in Prosecution Deal.
… He Now Becomes a State Witness.
BY PIJ REPORTERS
Suspended State House Chief of Staff Prince Kapondamgaga will not face prosecution for his alleged role in the Zuneth Sattar alleged web of corruption after agreeing a deal with the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to become a state witness and give back all money and material benefits he obtained from the UK based businessman.
As a result of the deal, Kapondamgaga—under investigation by the ACB for years— has returned a Mercedez Benz he received from Sattar and will not face any prosecution.
The Chief of Staff has also returned an unspecified amount of money. The PIJ has yet to establish how much money Kapondamgaga has paid back.
The move comes high on the heels of another controversial decision by the state to drop charges against former president Bakili Muluzi who paid back K86 million out of the K1.2 billion he allegedly abused as head of state between 1994 and 2004.
The decision to let go of Kapondamgaga while prosecuting other accused persons in the case will raise eyebrows.
However, sources familiar with the matter told PIJ the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Anti-Corruption Bureau worked closely on the matter and agreed that Kapondamgaga should become a state witness.
However, after months of back-and-forth negotiations, the bureau and Kapondamgaga’s lawyers settled on restitution—paying back money from alleged proceeds of crime—and his cooperation in the investigation that nabbed, among others, Vice President Saulos Chilima.
Both the offices of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the ACB have not publicly commented on the deal.
According to government sources familiar with the matter, the vehicle given back to ACB by Kapondamganga is among several vehicles given to public officials, which the UK’s National Crimes Agency (NCA) flagged out as bribes to Malawian government officials. The NCA had Sattar under surveillance for years.
Kapondamgaga could not be reached for comment on several attempts.
ACB spokesperson Egrita Ndala could neither confirm nor deny the accounts of our sources, saying the Bureau cannot immediately comment on the matter. However, the vehicle by Kapondamgaga can be seen at Mulanje House, the premises of the ACB headquarters in Lilongwe.
“At this stage, we are unable to comment on this matter because this is an operational matter,” said Ndala.
When contacted, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Masauko Chamkakala, said he was unaware of any such agreement as his office is not involved in corruption prosecutorial matters.
The Malawian-born businessman Sattar has been the subject of an unprecedented joint investigation by the UK and Malawi law enforcement agencies for years. While Malawian officials such as Vice President Saulos Chilima, former police chief George Kainja and others are currently under prosecution in Malawi for alleged involvement in Sattar’s corrupt dealings, the businessman has not been formally charged in a UK court of law despite being arrested.
One of the vehicles was allegedly given to ex-Lands and Housing Minister Kezzie Msukwa who the ACB arrested for allegedly having a corrupt relationship with Sattar.
The vehicles listed on the court record include the following:
•On 11th July 2018 – a Mercedes S350d registration BU16YYK valued at £30,300 to Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania,
• 18th September 2018 – a VW Tourag registration DF15FCD valued at £18,800 to Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania, on 24th December 2018 – Shipping and delivery for two cars to Malawi: BMW 340i and Range Rover SVR. Cost £7,800.
• On 3rd August 2019 – Mitsubishi Fuso Truck shipping to Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania, charged £3,250,
• On 13th January 2020 – Mercedes G Class shipping to Limbe [Ca meroon] charged £3,600. On 2nd March 2020 – Range Rover Vogue registration KV68PCF valued at £51,500, and shipping costs of £4,250 for shipping to Lilongwe, Malawi via Nacala [Mozambique],
• On 26th June 2020 – two Mercedes 5350d L AMG registration KT17OAO and FY65LZE to Walvis Bay, [Namibia]. Value of vehicles £22,350 and £22,550.
• On 20th January 2021 – Range Rover SVR registration BD70NKH valued at £92,520 to Lilongwe [Malawi], charged £8,750.
•On 21st February 2021 – Porsche 911 Carrera Convertible was valued at £104,000; on 10th April 2021, paid £8,600 for shipping the Porsche and a VW Golf to Lilongwe via Durban
According to the court filing, on the 28th of January 2021, Sattar’s business associate, Rafik Ebrahim, who was arrested alongside Sattar and his wife Tehara, exported to Malawi through his company Grand Motor Company, a UK-registered Mercedes S C200 motor vehicle, (approximate value USD 18,367) to Malawi via Tanzania.
“The recipient in Malawi was shown as a Nason Nelson KAYENDA, care of the Malawi Revenue Authority, Blantyre, Malawi. Nason Nelson KAYENDA has been identified as a Customs Officer with the Malawi Revenue Authority. It is believed that the vehicle was a gift to this customs officer, potentially in relation to support he may have provided to Mr SATTAR and his associates,” reads the filing.
Sattar denies any wrongdoing and has vowed to clear his name.
He denies all accusations and gave a rare interview to the UK’s Times newspaper last year in which he dismissed all allegations of corruption charged against him.
Sattar was arrested in October 2021 by the NCA regarding allegations of corruption relating to three public contracts awarded between 2019 and 2021 with the Malawian government – relating to armoured personnel carriers, food rations, and water cannons.
Sattar is represented by Simon Farrell QC, who, last year in court, described Sattar as an international businessman.
“He is an innocent man of good character, and why should his business be turned upside down? He’s an international businessman crippled by this,” Farrell claimed, adding that his client believed that the NCA case was “misconceived.”