Mahtani arrested,steps down


Dr RAJAN Mahtani has stepped down as Finance Bank Zambia Plc chairman following his arrest for forgery yesterday.

In a brief statement, the bank stated that Dr Mahtani was arrested on an offence that the State through suspended Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito had entered a nolle prosequi and then Attorney General Mumba Malila made a written undertaking that the matter had been permanently closed.

But a statement by the police indicated that Dr Mahtani was arrested over the fraudulent transfer of 500 000 000 shares from Zambezi Portland Cement into Finsbury Investment without following due process.

Police spokesperson Charity Chanda said Dr Mahtani was arrested yesterday on two counts of forgery involving 500,000,000 shares in the Ndola-based cement Zambezi Portland Cement Plc.

A quick search on Dr Mahtani’s cases in court reveals that the former Finance Bank chairman had enjoyed the privilege of nolle prosequis during the few years Mr Nchito had been DPP.

In 2012, Mr Nchito entered a nolle prosequi in favour of Dr Mahtani in a case in which the Finance Bank former chairman was facing charges of obtaining K6.5 billion (unrebased) credit by false pretence.

In the same year, Mr Nchito again entered a nolle in favour of Dr Mahtani in a case in which he and his lawyer John Sangwa were alleged to have forged then Bank of Zambia deputy governor, Denny Kalyalya’s signature.

Dr Mahtani has had a long and protracted battle with the Ventriglias, who claim ownership of Zambezi Portland Cement and in the last few months, there have been law suits and counter suits over the investment.

Recently, the Lusaka High Court discharged two injunctions by Dr Mahtani with regard to the Zambezi Portland Cement company.

This was over the control of the cement plant when the company’s founder Antonio Ventriglia and other company directors returned to Zambia and following two years of their absence after they were deported from the country.

On 16 March 2015, the High Court overturned the deportations of the Ventriglias and reinstated their residency permits as well as company ownership.

Dr Mahtani was released on bond and is expected to appear in court soon.

“In both counts, Dr. Mahtani has been accused of jointly and whilst acting with other persons unknown of forging a transfer of 500,000,000 shares from Zambezi Portland Cement into Finsbury Investment Limited, purporting that the forms were duly signed by the directors of Zambezi Portland Cement when in fact not,” Ms Chanda said.

The bank stated that in view of the unfortunate development, Dr Mahtani had graciously stepped down with immediate effect as chairman of the board of directors of Finance Bank Plc and Mr William Boli Nyirenda, S.C, a present member of the Board, had been appointed to act in his place.

The offence of forgery carries a jail term of between three and seven years if convicted.

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