The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) said it will not seize property of Cashgate suspects because it does not have capacity to do so.
ACB deputy director Reyneck Matemba said the bureau will only restrict the disposal of property in question.
Said Matemba in justifying the decision: “We have learnt some bitter lessons where we [ACB] and government have been dragged to court by individuals claiming millions or billions of kwacha in compensation for property damaged, vandalised or deteriorated while in our custody.
“The property which we can restrict in this regard is that property that is the subject of an investigation or prosecution, or is otherwise implicated in such investigation or prosecution.”
Earlier this year, ACB entered into a consent with former president Bakili Muluzi’s lawyers to release his vehicles pending the conclusion of his court case because his vehicles were getting damaged and, therefore, losing their value. The bureau has since kept the blue books.
According to ACB, due to the unknown duration of Cashgate trials, the bureau feels it is better not to seize property despite the Forfeiture Act giving it mandate.
“We need to find a way of mitigating these unnecessary losses and one way of doing this is to, where necessary, avoid or restrain ourselves from rushing to seize suspects’ properties when we know fully well that we do not have adequate capacity to securely keep or properly look after those properties.
“This is the reason why the bureau has, in the majority of Cashgate cases, resorted to freezing as well as restricting the disposal of suspects’ properties, other than seizing such properties. The ultimate goal, in either case, is the same – to prevent suspects from concealing, transferring or otherwise disposing of such properties until the conclusion of their cases,” he said.