By iDigital reporter
Bridgin Foundation has no cash and relies on financing from undisclosed sources, raising further questions on the credibility of the alleged US$6.8bn grant signed with the Malawi government.
Minister of Finance Sosten Gwengwe who signed the “grant” on behalf of the people of Malawi on Sunday referred the matter to Malawi Ambassador to the European Union Naomi Ngwira who did not respond to our questions.
Professor Tanko Mauhamadou, President of the Bridgin Foundation confirmed in an interview that his organisation has no money but relies on other silent donors to make the donations. His Director of Operations Mr Prieels confirmed that they do not give money to Government.
“A grant is in many cases a donation to government, Bridgin does not give money to Governments,” Prieels was quoted as telling the local Daily Times newspaper on Friday. He added that money is paid to suppliers and later recouped through through services sold. The two have not indicated which country has ever had a project implemented by the Foundation and cannot name any institution that will give them finances.
“The Ambassador has dossier on that foundation, please speak to her,” said Gwengwe when asked if due diligence was conducted. Information Minister who is Government spokesperson Gospel Kazako did not respond. The revelation that Bridgin Foundation does not give “grants” should raise serious alarms on the contents of the agreement Gwengwe and Tanko signed in presence of President Chakwera. Government is yet to release the document on conditions attached to the contract which was said to be a “grant.”
The Investigator can confirm that Ambassador Ngwira was the main contact for the Brussels registered Foundation which seems to be targeting poor countries and making huge pledged of cash which has not been fulfilled.
Bridgin Foundation made a US$500 million “grant” to Uganda, US$200 million to Uzbekistan and US$120 million to Nepal. None of the projects have taken off. The Foundation refuses to disclose its financial sources. We sought comment of Humphreys Mvula a renowned commentator on governance issues who said, “Government should tread carefully as the relationship unfolds into implementation. The so many negative comments from the citizens of Malawi should help government carry out proper due diligence. As an individual, I find the projects under Bridgin too good to reject.”
A money laundering expert said that as the money would be expected to benefit the public, the government had duty to Malawians to identify the source and validate it as any illegal flows of money would damage the reputation of the country. “US$6,8BN is a huge resource envelope almost what the World Bank has given to Malawi since 1964. Malawians need to know the source, the bank reports everyone who deposits K5 million above to Financial Intelligence Unit, surely that amount would need scrutiny to avoid sanctions if we end up with (God forbid) terrorists or illegal drugs funds,” he cautioned.
The “grant” is above Malawis total debt and half of Malawi’s GDP.