George Kunda clarifies allegations and says some money went to GBM

FORMER vice-president George Kunda has denied allegations that he or his firm, Messers George Kunda & Company received K190 million in respect of the Zamtel transaction.

And Mr Kunda has said his firm received K3.5 billion from the Ministry of Finance on behalf of its client, Sun Pharmaceuticals Limited in a matter against the Development Bank of Zambia.

Mr Kunda said in a statement in Lusaka yesterday that it was not necessary to constitute a commission of inquiry on him over the K3.5 billion money for the Sun Pharmaceuticals and in the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) transaction.

On allegations that his firm received K190 million, the former vice-president said the only sum of money received by George Kunda & Company from ZDA in October 2010 was K100 million.

He said the K100 million was paid in respect to a matter between now Defence Minister Geoffrey Mwamba versus Zambia Privatisation Agency (ZPA), Minister of Finance, Magaba Nyirenda, Katema Mutale, Charles Mwamba, Oliver Munyonsi and William Nkonde.

He said this was in respect of the sale of Savoy Hotel in Ndola.

“The ZDA inherited this matter from the ZPA. The amount paid by ZDA is backed by a Supreme Court Judgment (Appeal No. 68/2006) wherein Mr Mwamba was awarded a sum of US$46,000 plus 40 per cent interest from April 29, 1998 to date of payment and costs.

“Pursuant to this judgment the ZDA as successor to ZPA refunded $46,000 directly to Mr GB Mwamba & Company again pursuant to a court order,” he said.

He said the payment of K100 million is also supported by the necessary Bill of Cost in respect of the same matter as directed by the court in its order for costs.

Mr Kunda said all supporting documents were available at ZDA.

“It is common knowledge that law firms receive fees, legal costs and client’s money and George Kunda & Company is no exception. It may be that ZDA paid the K100 million from the Zamtel proceeds. We understand from inquiries made at ZDA that other creditors including some law firms, were also paid from the same proceeds including allowances for members of staff at ZDA,” he said.

He said as a law firm, they could not answer for the error made by ZDA, saying it was an error as they did not control the operations and financial affairs of the agency.

He said his company was merely a victim of an error made at ZDA.

“It is unfortunate that Mr (Sebastian) Zulu and Ms Dimple Ranchold (Chairperson of the Zamtel Commission of Inquiry) decided to release unverified information with intent to defame the firm of George Kunda & Company and as proprietor.

“It must also be pointed out that we have never been called by the technical committee appointed to inquire into the sale of Zamtel to testify as witnesses and state our side of the story,” he said.

He said he learnt about the alleged payment of K190 million through the media.

He said the firm had since decided to commence legal action against media organisations which carried the story that he had received K190 million.

Mr Kunda explained that as former vice-president and minister of Justice and now MP for Muchinga, he was not practicing in the law firm at the time the alleged payment was made.

“In view of the foregone it is not necessary to appoint a commission of Inquiry with its attendant financial cost to the tax payer in form of sitting allowances. All the information pertaining to this matter is available at ZDA,” he said.

He further said that it would be unfair to subject him to a commission of inquiry composed of politicians appointed by the president which is chaired by his principle accuser, the Minister of Justice.

“Such politicians are determined to ensure that my political career is ruined so that they can rule Zambia without any formidable opposition. With the president having pronounced me guilty already there is no way I can receive a fair hearing,” he said.

Mr Kunda said while some people were arguing that he should have declared interest, he said he had been filing declarations of assets and liabilities with the Chief Justice which includes a declaration of companies and firms in which he holds shares or interest.

On allegations that his firm received K3.5 billion, Mr Kunda said George Kunda & Company received the amount on behalf of Sun Pharmaceuticals Limited.

“The case between Development Bank of Zambia and Sun Pharmaceuticals Limited commenced in 1995 in the High Court that is to say 17 years ago in which case George Kunda & Company was acting for Sun Pharmaceuticals Limited,” he said.

He said at the time he was not in Government and that the case arose out of a loan agreement.

He said arising from the Judgment of the Supreme Court, the court awarded Sun Pharmaceuticals Limited compensation towards over payment.

Mr Kunda said the matter was between Sun Pharmaceuticals Limited and DBZ but that with the passing of the Development Bank of Zambia (Amendment) Act No. 11 of 2001, Government assumed the debt portfolio and liabilities of the bank.

He said arising from this, the Government was obliged to settle the debts of DBZ including the Sun Pharmaceutical debt.

‘The money was paid from the Compensation Fund in installments and not in one lump sum of K3.5 billion and the firm has accounted for all the money.

“It is not possible for the Ministry of Finance to pay money to George Kunda & Company or indeed to any law firm without a court order and supporting documents,” he said.

He said the said monies represented compensation and party costs due to Sun Pharmaceuticals Limited.

He said the money was not paid to George Kunda and Company as legal fees for work done for Government or the Development Bank of Zambia.

“This is not the only case DBZ has been sued by borrowers. There are other similar cases e.g. the famous Match Corporation case. To the best of my knowledge, Government has been paying billions of Kwacha to many claimants through various law firms and it is surprising that George Kunda and Company has been targeted for libelous attacks,” he said.

He said while some people are arguing that he should have declared interest, this could not arise because the firm was not acting for the Government.

In his New Year message, President Michael Sata said law enforcement agencies had made progress in arresting MMD leaders and that Mr Kunda would be the next target.eorg

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