..company address is a filling station
…Romania can only export 100,000 tons
The K500 billon worth of sovereign guarantees could be the highest possible collision to scam people of Malawi, with government and private officials conniving to borrow using the legal finance security instruments, The Investigator Magazine can declare.
Sam Kawale, the lying Minister of Agriculture cannot produce any Director of the so called East Bridge Estates S.R.L from Romania, because the company does not exist in Romania and they cannot be vetted in public.
The Minister has been selling half baked truths to Malawians but the Investigator Magazine has traced the address on the document to a filling station in the surbubs of Afumati in the Romanian capital, Bucharest.
Our investigator in Romania has pointed out that the documentation presented as East Bridge Estates S.R.L and the website www.east-bridge.co could all be work of scammers as they have deliberately omitted crucial details.
East Bridge Estates S.R.L registerd as a herbal medicine firm
The company register from Romanian Goverment shows the original company registration was in October 2018 and its legal address on register is Barbu Vacarescu Street in Sectrul 2 District of Bucharest.
However the address on the website is different listed as Afumati Commune, Bucharest Urzicen Street, Number 38A, Buildings Body C1, First Floor, Ilfov County.
The company registration shows its core business as “cultivation of spices, aromatic plants, medicinal plants and pharmaceutical plants.”
The company’s registration number is J40/4374/2023 with the European Union Company ID as ROONRC.J40/4374/2023.
When Zodiak’s presenter asked who the owners of the company are, Kawale dodged the question, instead mentioned Mulli Brothers as an equivalent of this bogus company. Mulli Brothers main shareholder is well identified as Leston Mulli but the Minister did not have a single name of the “ghost” directors of East Bridge Estates S.R.L said he met in his office at Ministry of Lands.
East Bridge S.R.L the closest company name exist as a property management company based at Bucharest Business Park and it is likely that the scammers added Estates S.R.L to deliberately gain credence.
“The real company that is traceable is East Bridge S.R.L, it is a big estates firm in Bucharest. This East Bridge Estates S.R.L is a fraud. That is why all its addresses has no post code,” charges our investigator.
No post code for Sam Kawales firm
The Minister of Agriculture claims to have done thorough due diligence including references from customers of the company which appears to have started in Malawi.
“I found that they had been in Malawi but they were not listened to. I met them when I was Chairperson of AIP. I listened to them,” Kawale told Zodiak.
He did not name which countries have benefitted from East Bridge Estates S.R.L fertliser conceding that he got his reports through writing. He did not seem bothered to justify his lack of interest to avoid scammers.
“His body language shows he is lying. He knows that the scam has nothing to do with Romania but he expects Malawians to buy his story. He is part of the scam or protecting whoever sent him. The reporter did not ask further questions,” said an analyst whom we showed the Zodiak interview.
Our trace to Romania shows that the number 38 on Uzirceni Street in Bucharest is a filling station and has no floor number 1 as the address alleges.
“Looking at the address, one should have become suspicious. How can a European company provide an address without a post code. I am not sure how due diligence was done, but that means you can’t trace the company,” said the Investigator.
He said without a confirmed post code, the company is a “ghost company” which cannot be said to be based in Romania but a shell used by people with criminal intentions or hiding from the law.
“Looking at all the documents for a serious company, ommission of a post code is telling. Someone is about to be scammed,” concludes the report to The Investigator Magazine.
No fertiliser in Romania
Kawale lied to the Nation that East Gate Estates S.R.L has production line in Romania and Turkey where it blends the raw materials. There is no evidence of any production plant owned by the group in the world.
Instead, Kawale and company might be complicit to a scam by a group of Hungarian nationals who solicit sovereign guarantees and borrows the funds and disappear.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development public relations department sounded shocked that Romania could supply 600,000 tons of fertiliser.
“That is the whole country’s production,” said an official approached by The Investigator Magazine He provided the official data which is readily available online on fertiliser production capacity of Romania.
Romania imports fertiliser, negotiates with Egypt
The official data from Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Romania shows the country relies on fertiliser imports and the European Union states that by 2026 Romania is projected to import 344,950 metric tons of fertilizer, a 3.6% increase from 2021’s 273,950 metric tons.
The country’s demand has risen from 2007 by 18.1% year on year.
In 2021, Romania ranked 20th in the world having the largest share of imports at 273,950 metric tons.
Sam Kawale’s dream deal which is supposed to recieve 300,000 tons by the end of July 2024 would mean Romania sending all its imports to Malawi.
In terms of production, Romania is expected to reach 577,890 metric tons of fertilizer by 2026, a 1.1% growth from 2021’s 541,570 metric tons.
According to the Minister of Agriculture Kawale, East Bridge Estates S.R.L will supply 600 000 metric tons of fertiliser and wait until Malawi has enough crops to pay back.
“It doesn’t sound only foolish, but stupid,” said one of the officials approached in Romania, asking The Investigator Magazine how it expects a company to spend US$500 million without any returns for a long period.
He had a well known lesson for for Sam Kawale and company, “If it sounds too good to be true, it is not true. This is a sad case of a scam and a whole nation being sold a dummy. There is no such amount of fertiliser in Romania.”
According to the Ministry the fertliser market had grown and Romania exports only 120,000 tons of fertiliser to its neighbours.
“When it comes to exports, Romania is projected to export 101,630 metric tons of fertilizer by 2026, a 3.4% decline from 2021’s 124,050 metric tons. Since 2007, Romania’s supply has risen 1.5% year on year,” reads part of official data from Romanian Government.
A media report confirms that Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca was in Egypt in February this year to discuss with the country to supply it with fertiliser.
“Romania is looking for Fertilisers as well, what makes you think they will give you 600,000 without any single payment? You must be kidding me,” said the agricultural official who said all fertiliser production companies are registered by his Ministry and the East Bridge Estates S.R.L is not among them.
Kawale could not give location of the project line saying they Ministry had references from customers who recieved fertiliser from East Bridge Estates S.R.L.
Like Bridgin debacle, Kawale, Gwengwe shows can’t be trusted with national resources
The Romanian scam closely resemble the Bridgin Foundation scandal where President Lazarus Chakwera announced a bogus “early Christmas” to Malawians.
Kawale and Finance Minister Sosten Gwengwe were among the first to justify and defend the scam raising serious questions of their capacity in key national positions.
“US$500 million dollars worth sovereign guarantees issued to a faceless company. That’s a huge amount of commitment, the two Kawale and Gwengwe should not be anywhere near such powerful positions. They lack caution and they can be scammed easily. Malawians will end up paying debts with these reckless issuance of sovereign guarantees.
Still adamant, confused the deal is illegal
The final straw on the legality of the deal is the fact that the deal broke all procurement rules and the Minister lied to the nation that he had secured and followed procedures.
Some school of thought suggest Kawale expects the bogus company to borrow using the three guarantees and pay for Malawi Congress Party campaign in 2025.
“His insistence to break the law is amazing. Short cuts, no PPDA approval, no ACB approval. Actually he signed the deal in December 2014 and only wrote to these agencies in April. The party looks desperate to be raising funds for campaign,” suggested a Chancellor College based political commentator on a social media chat.
Kawale, Gwengwe should face criminal charges
Kawale on Monday night went on Zodiak Television to defend an illegal deal which is now known to have broken Section 37 (11) of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assests Act as both the Public Procurement Directorate and the Anti Corruption Bureau have rejected his claims that he got approvals from the two procurement vetting agencies.
The revelations that the deal is illegal means Kawale and his Finance counterpart Sosten Gwengwe face possible criminal prosecution as the ACB recently arrested former Secretary for Transport Patrick Zimpita for awarding a contract without approval.
ACB stated that a ‘No Objection’ was issued without the knowledge of Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA).
Kawale and Gwengwe have signed a full contract and sovereign guarantee without the approval from the PPDA.
Zimpita was accused of abuse of office by instructing Michael Mbewe to draft and advertise notification of intention to award a contract to Mota Engil without the approval of Government Contracts Unit.
“On 9th May 2023, the Anti- Corruption Bureau has arrested Patrick Zimpita, who is reasonably suspected of having committed the offence of misuse of public office contrary to section 25B (1) of the Corrupt Practices Act and neglect of official duty contrary to section 121 of the Penal Code,” said the ACB in its statement.
Kawale has been on National TV to justify the deal which now looks like misuse of public office while Gwengwe signed the Sovereign Gurantee which could earn him a charge of neglect of official duty, our legal analyst has opined.
The Investigator Magazine has officially asked the ACB and the Director of Public Prosecutions if they will be investigating the two Ministers.
The Investigator Magazine has recieved faces and names of two Europeans who are said to have made an offer of Diesel and Fertiliser to MCP agents in Johannesburg in 2022. The two claim they supply fertiliser and was in a ship in Beira and Maputo. The two conmen one with a diplomatic title are known in the SADC region to be scammers. The Magazine believes these are the same gentlemen that have made the bogus offer.