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Oops!Cashgate Suspect Ishmael Chioko Appointed Acting Mera CEO

Chioko: Now Mera Acting CEO

Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) management has appointed its Director of Legal Affairs and Board Secretary Ishmael Stan Chioko as Acting Chief Executive Officer despite that Chioko has been implicated in cases of money laundering and corruption before.

An internal memo that we have seen states that the regulator’s embattled CEO Collins Magalasi who is on court bail after being arrested in connection with a K107 million procurement scam has proceeded on leave.

“This communication serves to inform you all of the appointment of Mr Stan Ishmael Chioko as the Mera Acting Chief Executive Officer effective 12 August until further notice,” reads the memo signed by Mera Human Resources and Administration Manager Troy Mtenje.

In 2016, Chioko, who was also Mera Acting CEO that time, allegedly demanded a bribe from Terrastone Limited Managing Director Jose Da Costa in a K6.8 billion office complex project contract that the firm was undertaking for Mera.

Mera suspended the project for the reason Da Costa believed was his refusal to offer the bribe to Chioko.

In the letter dated October 24 2016 addressed to Chioko with a copy sent to Mera’s then board chairperson Joseph Bvumbwe, Da Costa protested against the bribe and warned Chioko that he was walking on a “legally perilous path” if he persisted.

“I wish to register our bitter protest at what I perceive as an attempt on your part to extort a bribe from us to perform a contract that we already won under a clean and transparent process and for which we are already on site to start the works,” Da Costa said. Chioko threatened to drag Da Costa to court for libel but never did, a development which some quarters argued was an admission of guilt.

According to the letter, Chioko invited Da Costa to meet him “at a neutral place” which happened to be the Presidential Hotel at city centre in Lilongwe.

“You told me at the meeting that we should work together and that I should assist you if the contract is to run smoothly. I did not understand this and when I asked what you meant you said the owners of the project are not happy not to have something for themselves out of this project,” Da Costa said in the letter. The same year, Chioko was arrested on money laundering charges in what came to be known as Cashgate.

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