Private practice lawyer Ishmael Wadi has told Lilongwe Magistrate Court that his client, an Indian who was arrested at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe when he was found in possession of 15 bars of gold weighing 13.747 kilograms valued at K371.9 million wants to enter a plea of guilty.
Moinuddian Mohamed Iqbar Sodagar who was arrested on December 30 last year was also found externalising foreign exchange without documentation with K500 million in his possession at the time he wanted to exit the country.
The Indian was found in possession of $622 820, 15 860 euros and £2 015.
Wadi, former Director of Public Prosecution, told the court that “in the interest speedy disposal of the case” Sodagar wants to admit wrong doing in some of the charges.
Sodagar faces the charge of attempting to illegally transfer bullion out of the country contrary to Regulation 8 (1) of the exchange control regulations as read with section 3 of the Exchange Control Act.
But Wadi wants prosecution to give an alternative charge to attempt to ship out gold bullion.
The purity o f gold tested to be 99 percent pure but Wadi contest that the purity rating could be around 78 percent.
Wadi also argues that the State has no objective evidence on first count of money laundering, saying he can share sources of the money with invoices.
“We would request that the defence be allowed to serve the State on sources of funds in 10 days and then investigate for 30 days,” said Wadi.
But State prosecutor Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda accused the defence of playing delaying tactics.
Nyirenda, who is also legal officer of Reserve Bank of Malawi, accused Wadi of playing tactics “to waste the court’s precious time.”
He told the court that they have objective evidence to prove that the foreign currency was illegally obtained by the Indian.
Principal Resident Magistrate Patrick Chirwa ruled that the accused should be accorded “right to fair trial” and that the court would allows further testing of the gold bars and plea bargain.
“While the court agrees that the case must be expedited because of the public attention, the court is of the view that proceeding with hearing now would be tantamount to denying the accused to the right to a fair trial,” he said.
He adjourned the case to March 30. Plea will be taken on this day.