Court rejects Batatawala,Thodi application to have their money laundering charges declared unconstitutional

By Chisomo Phiri

The High Court of Malawi sitting as a Constitutional Court in Zomba has today dismissed with cost an application by businessperson Abdul Karim Batatawala and former Director General of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services Elvis Thodi seeking the declaration of their criminal proceedings on money laundering  charges as  unconstitutional.

In an application, the two argued that the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) which is prosecuting their matter, charged them under the Financial Crimes Act (FCA) enacted in February 2017, yet their offences were allegedly committed way back in 2009 and 2012.

Abdul Karim Batatawala

They also raised concerns about violations of their right to a fair trial as guaranteed by Section 42 of the Malawi Constitution.

But delivering the ruling, the three-judge panel comprising  Justice Texious Masoamphambe, Justice Patrick Chirwa and Justice Dick Sankhulani  noted that charging the two with the offences under FCA does not violate their rights as this contains similar provisions.

As a result, the case will proceed in the Magistrate’s Court.

According to Anafi Likwanya, the Chief Legal Prosecuting Officer for the Anti-Corruption Bureau(ACB), only one or two witnesses remain to be heard before the conclusion of the case in the lower court.

Thodi and Batatawala are answering money laundering charges due to alleged inflating figures of materials supplied by Batatawala to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services.