The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) says it is finalising its investigations into former president Peter Mutharika’s alleged abuse of his duty-free benefits.
ACB director general Martha Chizuma said this in a written response on Tuesday when asked about the status of the matter.
Following Mutharika’s decision last year to remain silent, the ACB said it would pursue a legal process to have the former president explain his side of the matter.
But Chizuma said she could not give more details on ACB’s next move once the investigations are concluded through the legal move the bureau opted for.
She said: “We are now doing the very final aspects of this investigation. I think what’s important is that we have used legal means of moving from that stage of investigations [on the interview].”
In September last year, the ACB director told The Nation that the bureau also wrote Mutharika to respond to some issues within a 21-day period.
But when asked if the former president responded, Chizuma insisted that she could not give more details except for the fact that they have made tremendous progress on their investigations and they would soon be taking the next step.
She said the legal means the bureau decided to pursue was a good option as it would compel Mutharika to provide his side of the matter since he exercised his right of remaining silent.
In July last year, the ACB indicated that it would interview Mutharika on the allegations of abuse of his taxpayer identification number (TPIN) following investigations in the importation of cement.
But Chizuma said she could not give more details on the investigations due to the political nature of the matter.
While Mutharika refused to be interviewed by the ACB, his successor President Lazarus Chakwera, on the other hand, allowed the bureau to interview him on an investigation into oil importation deals at National Oil Company of Malawi.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Mutharika’s lawyer Samuel Tembenu said there has been no communication from the ACB since his client exercised his right to remain silent on the matter.
“As far as I am concerned there has been no movement on the case,” said Tembenu.
In two separate statements on July 16 and 20 2021, the ACB said their planned caution interview with the former president was a normal and legal process which started in 2020.
But Mutharika, who is president of the former governing Democratic Progressive Party, described the planned ACB interview as a political witch-hunt.
The cement saga and alleged abuse of Mutharika’s taxpayer identification number led to the arrest of his personal bodyguard Norman Chisale and former chief of staff Peter Mukhito.
Besides the two aides, others arrested in connection with the scandal were former Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) deputy commissioner general Roza Mbilizi and a Lilongwe-based Asian businessperson Mohammed Chunara and his father Ahmed.
Police in May last year also interviewed Mutharika’s step-son Tadikira Mafubza on the same.