….says in its report, the Turkish Property Management Company acknowledged receipt of $6.8m down payment for 12 properties

Lusaka, Tuesday, September 19, 2023 ( Smart Eagles)

A State Witness in the Joseph Malanji and Fredson Yamba case has told the Lusaka Magistrates Court that the former Foreign Affairs Minister had absolutely no influence as to who the Estate Agents or Lawyers should be in the purchase of mission properties in Ankara, Turkey.

In this matter, Mr Malanji and former Secretary to the Treasury Mr Yamba are charged with wilful failure to comply with procedure relating to procurement, and being in possession of property reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime.

When the matter came up for continuation of Trial, Monday, then Ministry of Foreign Affairs Legal Counsel Ms Lidya Mataa told Magistrate Irene Wishimanga who is sitting under the Economic and Financial Crimes Court that the program on purchase of properties by Embassies was introduced way before Mr Malanji became Minister of Foreign Affairs.

She said Mr Malanji was not part of the Ministerial Committee which was responsible for choosing the Turkish Estate Agents and Lawyers while the Sales Contract was negotiated and arrived at by the Embassy of the Republic of Zambia in Turkey.

She said the contract for the value of all the properties was concluded by Ambassador Chilengi and not Mr Malanji.

The State Witness further narrated that in its report, the Turkish Property Management Company, Mita, acknowledged receiving payment of US$6.8 Million.

“Mita says they received $6.8m; as of 31st August, 2021, Mita stated that they received $6.8m,” she said.

When asked if it said anywhere that $4.6 Million went to Hon Malanji, She replied “no”.

Ms Mataa said she could not personally confirm if an alleged $4.6 million went to Mr Malanji.

“No one saw Hon Malanji get any money based on what is on record,” she said.

The Court also heard that there was no report anywhere that Mr Malanji got any commissions or received money from the Ankara transactions.

Ms Mataa who could not remember when Malanji became Minister of Foreign Affairs stated that he did not initiate the program on the procurement of properties by Embassies.

She agreed that the late Ambassador Chilengi abrogated the procurement process and found the seller of properties in Turkey.

Ms Mataa further narrated how the negotiations for property worth $ 19.5 million was done.

“The Contract was negotiated by the Embassy and not Hon Malanji. It was concluded by Mr Chilengi and not Malanji.. In the transaction of Ministry Business, the policy maker can intervene to find out certain information in the processes.. There was nothing wrong with Malanji telling me that there was need to expedite the preparation of the draft contract,” she explained.

Mr Malanji is accused of having obtained US$4.6m of the $7.1m paid by the Government of the Republic of Zambia for the purchase of mission properties in Ankara.

Meanwhile, the Court heard that there is absolutely no report indicating that Mr Malanji got any commission.

“There is absolutely no record of Hon Malanji getting any money. I would not be surprised that Hon Malanji is unaware of the said Money”.

And Ms Mataa agreed that the report was not entirely conclusive because Mr Burhan Asaf Safak, the lawyer to the Seller of the property and his Clients were not spoken to.

“The purpose was to verify issues relating to the purchase contracts in particular by speaking to the advocates for the sellers of the properties, interview advocate that handled the Conveyancing, speak to the Lands Registry Officers responsible for transfer of property under Turkish Law and to the custodian of relevant documents relating to the transactions,” she said.

She also revealed that they did not speak to the Turkish Lands Transfer Officer at the Registry.

“We did not speak to the Lands Registry Officers in Turkey but sent an interpreter… There is missing information in the Report. We spoke to a Mr Toga because he was one of the mission Real Estate Agent before. Mr Toga said he was required to pay 50% commission to the Ambassador for every Contract citing Two instances when he had to give a cut to Ambassador Joseph Chilengi.”


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