Zambia’s most controversial businessman Rajan Mahtani has been caught up in another corruption scandal, this time in an alleged fraud to steal property via the Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources, and Environmental Protection.
According to documents obtained by Zambia Reports, Mr. Mahtani’s law firm, Simeza Sangwa and Associates, engaged in alleged fraud by submitting false documents to the Ministry in attempt to steal control of property relating to their ongoing dispute with Zambezi Portland Cement Ltd.
The latest attempted fraud featured an appeal for rectification to the Lands Ministry claiming that land titles pertaining to the $160 million cement plant in Ndola had been unlawfully transferred by the owners of ZPC, Antonio Ventriglia and Manuela Sebastiani.
The only problem? Mahtani presented fake documents to the Lands Ministry that were factually incorrect, claiming that the deeds to the plant were registered under Ital Terrazzo, when in fact the truth is that the registrations had always been under ZPC. His lawyers also failed to provide any evidence whatsoever to back up their claims.
Officials from the Lands Ministry were not amused by Mahtani’s attempted fraud. According to official letter of response to Mahtani’s lawyers, the Ministry clearly states that “there was fraudulent misrepresentation on the part of the applicant.”
The letter continues: “It is our considered view that you have not laid evidence to me on the alleged fraud or false misrepresentation nor particularized any fraud committed by shareholders of ZPC to warrant our office to invoke section 11(1) of the Lands and Deeds Registry Act CAP 185 of the laws of Zambia.”
“Further the mere allegation that the applicant did have authority to assign the properties on behalf of ZPC does not compel our office to rule that there was fraud. It is trite law that third parties are not concerned with the internal happenings on the company.”
The full text of the letter is below.
Mahtani’s failure to defraud the Lands Ministry comes as another embarrassing setback in the long saga of his dispute with Zambezi Portland Cement, which have included other past frauds including the submission of forged documents to PACRA in an attempt to steal control of a majority shareholding. To date, Mahtani has been unable to produce original copies of the share transfer certificates to prove his claimed ownership in the company.
The original owners of ZPC regained control of the company in April 2015, and Mahtani was later arrested on June 2 last year on two counts of forgery. He has since stepped down from his chairmanship of Finance Bank and initiated the sale of the bank to Atlas Mara – a transaction which still hasn’t been completed months after the announcement due to ongoing disputes over the bank’s insider borrowing practices.