Prosecution closes case in Lusaka lawyers’ K2m theft matter

By Staff Reporter
AN ARRESTING officer on Wednesday told the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court that he charged two lawyers Jeah Madaika and Mwila Chibiliti after he found that they jointly acted with former Libyan African Investment Company accounts manager Clement Wonani in the theft of K2 million.
And arresting officer, Belington Makuya also told the court that there was no cause for the K2 million to move from Libyan African Investment Company (LAICO) bank account to that of J and M Advocates held at Barclays Bank.
Superintendent Makuya, who at the time of the investigations was attached to the Anti-Fraud Department at police headquarters, told the court that he charged the two lawyers because they jointly acted with Wonani and a Mr. Khalil.
In this case, Wonani is jointly charged with Madaika and Chibiliti with theft of K2 million, the property of LAICO Zambia Limited.
Madaika, Chibiliti and Wonani are alleged to have stolen the money on February 27, 2016 while acting together.
The court also heard that the K2 million was allegedly transferred from LAICO’s Finance Bank account and later to J and M Advocates without written instructions from the company.
Makuya during cross-examination told the court that the Ford Ranger motor vehicle that was seized from Chibiliti has not been given back to the accused because it was still under investigations.
He said the vehicle was seized from Chibiliti in 2017 because it was suspected to be proceeds of crime but that it was not part of the theft case involving the K2 million.
Makuya said the motor vehicle was still parked at Zambia Police headquarters.
He told the court he handed over investigations of the vehicle to the Drug Enforcement Commission’s Anti-Fraud Department who were to date still investigating the issue.
Makuya said LAICO managing director, a Mr. Shukri, was the one who reported the loss of the K2 million to the police and that Madaika and Chibiliti jointly acted with Wonani in the matter.
Another witness Mwikisa Louis Mukande, State Counsel, who is a committee member of the Legal Practitioners Committee at the Law Association of Zambia, went through the roles performed by the committee among them, the regulation of the conduct of registered lawyers, especially those in private practice in terms of how they conduct their business vis-a-vis their interaction with their clients and general conduct and behaviour of lawyers on how they conduct their financial affairs.
Mukande, who is also a member of the Judicial Service Commission, explained that it was a known requirement that practicing lawyers are supposed to have two separate accounts in the conduct of the practice, which are the trust account and the office account.
He explained the client’s account was a trust account opened by the law firm in its name for the purposes of receiving and depositing clients’ money, which is held in trust to particular clients whose transactions normally would require the authority of the involved client.
He said that the office account was generally used for the day-to-day operations of the firm such as paying salaries for supporting staff and other administrative duties.
He explained that a lawyer would need permission from a client he is holding the money in trust of to transfer it from the client’s account to office account but the cardinal thing required was for the permission from the client who is the owner of the money.
After Mukande’s testimony which did not take over 20 minutes, the prosecution closed their case in the matter.
Magistrate Greenwell Malumani has set July 31, 2018 for ruling on whether or not the two lawyers and the accountant have a case to answer or not.