Sabina Karim Abdul Batatawala, the wife of troubled business mogul Abul Karim Batatawala, has recently registered a company in the United Kingdom. This move has raised suspicions among money laundering experts, who fear it may be an attempt to launder funds from the couple’s Malawian companies to the United Kingdom.
According to the UK’s company registry, Sabina, 47, is listed as the sole director of Anarco International Ltd, with company listing 11837821. Despite being identified as a Malawian national residing in Malawi, the correspondence is c/o Gibraeel & Co, 1 Mychell House, Pincott Road, Wimbledon, London, SW19 2NN.Abul Karim Batatawala, who owns multiple companies and properties in Malawi, is facing ongoing court cases related to fraud and corruption.
As a result, his companies are prohibited from conducting business with the government.
A money laundering expert based in Blantyre, who chose to remain anonymous, suspects that Batatawala is using his wife to front his money laundering scheme. The expert stated, “He knows it has become difficult for him to conduct business in Malawi, so it’s safer to move his money to the UK.”The expert raised concerns about the UK government allowing someone under corruption trial in Malawi to conduct business in the UK and suggested that the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) should follow Batatawala’s money trail.
Efforts to obtain comments from the Batatawalas were unsuccessful.
Allegations of Fraudulent Activities:
Abdul Karim Batatawala, an Indian-origin Malawian, rose from a shopkeeper in Limbe to a business kingpin. Investigations by the Platform for Investigative Journalism (PIJ) reveal that Batatawala allegedly scammed the Malawi army, Police, and Immigration Department through fraudulent tactics violating Malawi’s procurement and anti-corruption laws.
The PIJ’s report details instances where Batatawala failed to deliver goods for over a decade, providing substandard quality items to the Malawi army. Despite rejected procurements, he allegedly manipulated the army and other public departments to secure payments through political connections.
Not limited to the military, Batatawala reportedly used similar tactics to dupe the Malawi Police and Immigration Department, both falling under the Ministry of Homeland Security. The investigation discovered delayed and overpriced procurements, with some not even included in the initial tender documents and contracts.
Dubious Connections and Legal Representation:Batatawala’s choice of legal representation, including former Justice Minister Henry Duncan Phoya and ex-director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau, Alex Nampota, has raised eyebrows.
There are also allegations that Batatawala financed Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera’s presidential bid with a substantial amount.
Following his arrest for fraud and corruption, Batatawala sued President Chakwera’s Chief Advisor on Rural Transformation and Development, Adamson Mkandawire, for allegedly failing to repay a loan of K378 million taken on behalf of the President.
From Rags to Riches:
Born Abdul Karim Batatawala, the businessman arrived in Malawi from India in 1992 and initially worked as a shop assistant at Okhai Electronics in Limbe. Over the years, he transformed into a business tycoon, establishing various companies and accumulating significant wealth.
His businesses, including Africa Commercial Agency, Kasco Enterprises, SS Express Agency, Lido Electrical Engineering Limited, HG Suppliers, Zam Zam General Dealers, Gratorite General Dealers, Novateck Engineering Suppliers, Elegant Suppliers, and Pamodzi, a real estate company, have come under scrutiny amid the allegations of fraud and corruption.