Lusaka businessman and President Edgar Lungu’s close associate Valden Findlay has instructed his lawyers to take necessary legal steps to address malicious allegations levelled against him by National Democratic Congress (NDC) leader Chishimba Kambwili that he is a drug trafficker.
However, Findlay, who called for a press briefing, failed to show up and requested his personal assistant and public relations officer Daniel Phiri to speak on his behalf as the former was said to be attending to other matters.
The United States government, through its Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), extradited renowned African drug lord of Indian origin Vijaygiri Vicky Goswami, along with the Akasha brothers from Kenya in 2017, to stand drug trafficking trial in that country.
According to cross-examination transcripts from a court case in New York, the detained convict, who was turned into a State witness in the matter where the Akasha brothers have been jailed for 25 years, named Findlay from Zambia as one of the people involved in a sophisticated crime syndicate.
This prompted opposition Kambwili to hold a press briefing at his house in Lusaka last Monday where he asked President Lungu to explain his relationship with the “accused drug trafficker”.
“I want to ask the President to be very honest with the people of Zambia: tell us what business you have with Valden Findlay. The Zambian people want to know what business you have with one Valden Findlay. History has it that Mr Findlay was locked up by Dr Kenneth Kaunda for dealing in drugs. We have seen [Mr President] that whenever you go abroad, when you are alighting from the plane, the next person to come out is Valden Findlay. There are allegations by the people of Zambia and world-over that, maybe, the Presidential trips and the Presidential plane is now being used to courier drugs. This man (Findlay) has been mentioned in drug deals in America. Are we under State capture by Valden Findlay? What business do you do with Valden Findlay, your Excellency Mr President? The people of Zambia want to know!” demanded Kambwili.
But speaking at Findlay-owned Chrismar Hotel in Lusaka, Friday, Phiri insisted that the allegations were gravely false, adding that Findlay was a law-abiding citizen who had conducted legitimate business in and outside Zambia in accordance with the law.
He said Findlay had never engaged in any form of state capture or any other illegality.
“In a video footage aired live on Diamond Television on 9th September, 2019, Mr Chishimba Kambwili made false and malicious allegations against Mr Valden Findlay claiming inter alia, that he had been arrested before on drug-related offences. Mr Chishimba Kambwili claimed that Mr Findlay had been cited in some proceedings in the United States of America on allegations that he was an associate of certain individuals accused of drug trafficking offences. Mr Chishimba Kambwili further insinuated that Mr Findlay had captured the Presidency of the Republic of Zambia,” Phiri said.
“Mr Valden Findlay wishes to state, categorically, that the above allegations are gravely false! He has never engaged in any drug trafficking activities nor has he ever been arrested, prosecuted or convicted of any drug-related offence. Furthermore, at no time has Mr Valden Findlay ever engaged in any form of state capture or at all. Mr Valden Findlay is a law-abiding citizen, who has conducted legitimate business in and outside Zambia in accordance with the law. In view of the gravity of the malicious allegations made against him, Mr Valden Findlay has instructed his lawyers to take necessary legal steps to address the said malicious allegations.”
Phiri subsequently closed the briefing without taking any questions from the media.