Ownership dispute: Ultimate Insurance directors still languishing in jail

Ownership dispute: Ultimate Insurance directors still languishing in jail

Three Directors of a private insurance company are still languishing in Kamwala remand prison over ownership dispute of their company.

Tobia Milambo, Nachi Musonda and Richard Lubemba have been detained since 7 September 2020. The three have been charged with fraud and forgery over ownership of Ultimate Insurance Company. The truth however seems to be that, the three are in a deadly ownership dispute of the insurance company with Tomorrow Investments Limited owner Chanda Katotobwe. Katotobwe, using state power, courts, First Lady Esther Lungu and the DPP has managed to put his rivals in jail while he is finalising the takeover of the company.

Tobia Milambo, Nachi Musonda and Richard Lubemba own a company called ‘Marshlands Consortium limited’. Marshlands Consortium limited in turn is the major shareholder in an insurance firm called ‘Ultimate Insurance limited’.

Katotobwe and the police, accuse the three detained directors of having fraudulently changed records of Ultimate Insurance Company. Katotobwe claims that he and his wife  bought Ultimate Insurance Company. So far he has not provided any proof. PACRA records, reproduced here, show that Ultimate Insurance Limited was incorporated on 12 December 2013, with  individual shareholders registered as Nachi Musonda, Innocent Sinzala, Wilson Katwishi Musonda, Luke Chisenga Lubemba, Felicitas Kabwe Chibamba and Hanyimbo Tobias Milambo. The institutional shareholder is Marshlands Consortium. The name of Katotobwe  does not appear on the original PACRA documents.

Instead, Katotobwe working with three other people, Justin Phiri, Klein Syampongo and Maybin Silavwe conspired and signed a consent judgement that enabled him to illegally take ownership of Ultimate Insurance Company Limited.

The consent judgment was later proved to be fake. When Katotobwe realised that the scam has been discovered, he betrayed his colleagues and claimed that he was not aware of the consent judgment. He claimed that it was signed without his knowledge. The people he paid to cook the consent judgment , Howard Simutumba and lawyer Siamutwa of Charles Siamutwa Legal Practitioners have since been arrested but this matter is being downplayed by both the police and the courts.

ZNBC reported that Mr. Siamutwa, occasioned the Consent Judgement, without the knowledge of Mr. Chanda Katotobwe, who claims to be the rightful owner of Ultimate Insurance Company.

When the Consent judgment attempt failed, Katotobwe now decided to cause his rivals to be arrested. This was easily done using money and state power.

What is however shocking is the bias and personal interest that the DPP Lilian Shawa demonstrated in this whole fight. Immediately the three directors were arrested, the DPP wrote a strange, ‘extremely urgent’  letter to the minister of Finance Bwalya Ngandu directing him to order the Pensions and Insurance Authority to take over Ultimate Insurance company. The DPP told the minister Ngandu that since the three directors have been arrested, they should not be involved in the operations of the company. The DPP warned in her letter that if the Pensions and Insurance Authority does not take over the private Insurance firm, officials of the Pensions and Insurance Authority will be arrested.

Meanwhile, the Pensions and Insurance Authority had already explained that there was nothing wrong or irregular in the way the licence for Ultimate Insurance was renewed. Effectively, the Pensions and Insurance Authority cleared the three detained directors.

On 26 March 2020, Christopher Mapani, the Registrar & Chief Executive Officer of Pensions and Insurance Authority wrote that:

‘The Authority categorically denies any fraud or criminal conduct in the renewal of Ultimate Insurance Limited 2020 license. Like any other insurer licensed by the Authority, Ultimate Insurance Limited applied for the renewal of the 2020 license and upon consideration of the set requirements, the license was issued. Finally, the Authority wishes to state that it will not be cowed by intimidation, harassment and humiliation into taking a decision outside the law.’

He was arrested the next day. Mr. Mapani as Registrar of PIA, is  accused of perpetuating the operations of Ultimate Insurance Company with the three accused persons despite allegedly  tendering forged documents of ownership of Ultimate  Insurance.

When Minister of Finance received the ‘extremely urgent’ letter from the DPP, he wrote to the Pensions and Insurance Authority advising them to act. From the letter the minister wrote, it is clear he did not agree with the demands and threats from the DPP but never the less had to do something. See the letter attached.

When the Pensions and Insurance Authority received the letter from the minister, they sought legal guidance from the Attorney General Likando Kalaluka.

In his legal advice, the Attorney General Kalaluka guided that there was no legal provision that could allow the authority to take over the private insurance firm based on the mere fact that the directors have been charged with a criminal offence. The attorney general guided that the authority should wait until the veracity of the criminal charges given to the owners of the company are either proved or dismissed by the courts. See the letter from the Attorney General.

While all this was going on in the background, the directors, Tobia Milambo, Nachi Musonda and Richard and were booked to appear in court. One of them had fallen ill. The other two were at court but their lawyer had advised them to wait outside as the lawyer went to discuss some issues with the magistrate. While the lawyer was hoping to talk to the magistrate in chambers before commencement of trial, Magistrate Alice Walusiku called up the case in open court. The accused persons were therefore not in court but outside waiting for their lawyer. Magistrate Alice Walusiku then decided to revoke their bail and ordered that they should be detained. The police immediately picked them from the court’s car park and they have been in jail since. Attempts to grant them bail since then have been rejected by court.

They will hopefully appear in  again on 6 October 2020. With this background, one can only shed tears for justice in Zambia.

Meanwhile Katotobwe, working with journalists to be mentioned soon, has made paid most media houses and court reporters to write negative articles about the detained directors to try and show the public that these are criminals.

 

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