Blantyre: A protracted civil trial in which Illovo Sugar Malawi (ISM) is being sued by its minority shareholder Prudential Holdings Ltd ( PHL), resumes Monday at the commercial division of the High Court in Blantyre.
The trial, which started in 2016, will sit until Tuesday before judge John Katsala. The trial has been adjourned for long periods in the past.
PHL has dragged to court Africa’s giant sugar company accusing it of falsifying financial statements and making questionable payments to its parent companies in South Africa and the UK based Associated British Foods (ABF).
PHL, chaired by Ramesh Savjani, is also querying, among several queries, why s 2011 accord to pay Illovo South Africa $30,000 per year was revised to $4.5 million without proper consultation with the board of directors.
Lawyers Shabir Latif, SC, is representing ISM while Davis Njobvu defends PHL. PHL has already paraded several witnesses while ISM is yet to bring to the dock its witnesses in defence.
The trial has seen both sides bring stacks of files to the court and top executives from Illivo SA jet into the country every time hearing resumes. ISM is listed on the Malawi Stock Exchange.
Illovo is Africa’s largest sugar company, operating in six southern African nations including Malawi. It has thousands of workers on its payroll, playing what it calls on its website “a significant economic role.”