There are fears that Airtel Malawi Limited may be involved in money laundering deals after eyebrows were raised when the company declared a K23 billion dividend, more than the actual profit of K22 billion for the year ending December 2020.
Airtel Malawi announced that it had made a profit after tax of K22.091 billion for the year 2020, up from K15.908 billion the previous year. The mobile company also announced through its Company Secretary Hlupekire Chalamba that it was going to pay its shareholders a total of K23.1 billion, more than the profit it made in the year.
A financial analyst feared that Airtel Malawi could be involved in money laundering looking at the transactions that have happened.
“In normal circumstances, the dividend that goes to the shareholder of the company is less than the profit that the company has made because there has to be some money investment for the sustainability of the company. The case of Airtel Malawi is suspicious, they have declared a dividend more than the profit they have made,” he said.
“The dividends will go to the shareholders and in this case, we know that Airtel Malawi majority shareholders with 80% are based out of the country which means this money (the dividend) will be externalized. One can suspect that this is money laundering, especially that the dividends are more than the profit made by the company.”
“You mean they are not re-investing the profits in Airtel Malawi? How is the company going to survive? Where are they getting the extra K1 billion to pay dividend to the shareholders? We know that the 20% shareholders are local and the amount they are going to get is not that substantial but the majority shareholders are going to get 80% of the K23.1 billion, something is not adding up here,” added the financial analyst.
Some quarters of society have questioned why multinational companies like Airtel Malawi are allowed to hold a huge stake at the expense of locals.
Some have called on the government to revisit the law on shareholding with others calling for a 51-49% so that huge sums of money should not be externalized in the name of dividends to majority shareholders.