TRAFIGURA OIL DEAL IN COURT

The US$ 24 million Trafigura oil debacle that almost ground Zambia to a crippling oil shortage after the death of fifth President Michael Sata is finally in court.

Yesterday, two senior Government officials were arraigned for irregularly awarding Trafigura a contract of US$24, 302,555, 94 and US$12, 5US$ 51, 307, 45 to supply oil.

They are also accused of receiving US$9,880, US$411,55 and  US$1,231, 092,89 which came into their possession by virtue of their employment.

Former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water Development Charity Mwansa and Charles Mulenga, a director, appeared in the Lusaka Magistrates Court on two counts of theft and abuse of authority when she allegedly procured 24,626 cubic litres of petrol and 26, 500 litres from Trafigura allegedly without adhering to the contract terms of payment.

Mwansa, 63, who is now in private practice, and her co-accused Mulenga, appeared before Magistrate Kenneth Mulife after they were arrested by the Anti-Corruption Commission on Thursday in Lusaka.

The duo could not take plea as the State was still waiting for further instructions from the Director of Public Prosecutions.

They were released on bail in the sum of K2, 000 each with two working sureties in the sum of K50, 000.

Mwansa and Mulenga are in count one alleged to have on October 1, 2014 and February 4, 2015 jointly and while acting together approved the issuance of a letter of credit no. SLC/12/15 MEWDZ dated February 4 for the procurement of 26,500 cubic litres of petrol from Trafigura PTE in the sum of US$24, 302, 555, 94 without adhering to the contract terms of payment – an arbitrary act prejudicial to the interests of the Zambian Government.

In count two the duo are facing a charge of theft by servant contrary to the laws of Zambia.

It is alleged that Mwansa and Mulenga on the same dates jointly being person’s employed in the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water Development as permanent secretary and director, did steal US$9,880, 411,55 which came into their possession by virtue of their employment.

In the third count Mwansa and Mulenga are facing a charge of abuse of authority of office contrary to the laws of Zambia.

It is alleged that the two accused persons between October1 and April 27 last year did approve the issuance of a letter of credit no. SLC/12/15 MEWDZ dated April 27, 2015 for the procurement of 24, 626,28 cubic litres of petrol from Trafigura  PTE  in the sum of US$12,551,307,45 without adhering to the contract terms of payment – an arbitrary act prejudicial to the interests of the Zambian Government.

In count four, the duo are facing a charge of theft by servant contrary to the laws of Zambia.

It is alleged that Mwansa and Mulenga on the same dates jointly being persons employed in the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water Development as permanent secretary and director did steal US$1,231, 092,89 which came into their possession by virtue of their employment.

The bail applications were granted after lawyers representing Mwansa and Mulenga applied to the court.

Mulenga’s lawyer C. Simwanza asked magistrate Mulife to grant his client bail as he was innocent until proved guilty by the courts of law.

And Mwansa’s lawyer L. Malambo from LM Chambers, submitted that while awaiting instructions from the DPP the court has powers to entertain and address the application.

He added that the Bill of Rights of Zambia also stated that any person charged with a criminal offence was still innocent until proved guilty.

State prosecutor Mr Samuel Zulu said he had no objection to the granting of bail pending trial.

Mr Mulife adjourned the matter to February 8 and ordered Mwansa and Mulenga to be remanded in custody until they met the bail terms. Trafigura is the company that was embroiled in another oil supplying scandal which saw Zambia procure 216 million litres of petrol and 21 million litres of diesel at an exorbitant price of US$ 500 million when the country should have paid US$ 200 million as per the ruling international market prices at that time.

Between 2011 and 2012, Dalbit was among the companies that participated in the tender to supply Zambia with Petroleum products and provided the best bid but the contract was controversially awarded to Trafigura that came second in the bidding process.

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