The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) says it is conducting a separate investigation into the alleged importation of cement valued at K5 billion using former president Peter Mutharika’s duty-free privilege.
The bureau’s director-general Reyneck Matemba spoke in an interview yesterday following calls by a section of civil society groups who petitioned Parliament to quiz ACB on the handling of various investigations, including the cement probe and why businessperson Ahmed Shaffie Chunara was not among those whose bank accounts the bureau froze.
He said the graft-busting body was undertaking a separate investigation involving Mutharika and other individuals in the public sector.
Matemba said: “Firstly, our investigation on this particular matter relates to the public officers and secondly, the issues that we are investigating fall under the Corrupt Practices Act.
“The person you have mentioned [businessperson Ahmed Shaffe Chunara] is being investigated by the Fiscal and Fraud Unit of the Malawi Police Service [MPS] and the offence he is being suspected to have committed falls under the mandate of the Malawi Police Service and not the ACB. That is why he was arrested by the MPS.
“I cannot, unfortunately, divulge more information about these investigative issues for fear of jeopardising the ongoing investigations.
“However, you may wish to know that the ACB, the MPS and the other law enforcement agencies are jointly working together in pursuing this and the other cases, of course always bearing in mind the different legal mandates that each one of us has.”
The law allows the ACB to freeze assets for preservation from disposal of suspected proceeds of crime, pending conclusion of investigations under the Corrupt Practices Act and the Financial Crimes Act.
The bureau last month froze five bank accounts belonging to Mutharika—who lost the court-ordered June 23 Fresh Presidential Election to President Lazarus Chakwera, a joint account owned by Mutharika and his wife Gertrude, Malawi Revenue Authority deputy commissioner general Roza Mbilizi, Mutharika’s personal bodyguard Norman Chisale and former director-general of State Residences Peter Mukhito.
Mukhito, Chisale and Chunara were arrested by Fiscal Police and charged with alleged involvement in the importation of K5 billion worth of cement using Mutharika’s duty-free privilege.
Civil society groups who petitioned Parliament over ACB cited the absence of Chunara on the list of the frozen bank accounts, but Matemba yesterday clarified that the bureau and Fiscal Police were running separate investigations.
The civil society organisations (CSOs) leaders Monday petitioned the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament to summon the ACB director to give an update on the progress made in the cases of alleged corruption.
The petitioners—Billy Banda, Philip Kamangira, Unandi Banda and Luther Mambala—also want Matemba to explain the suspicious award of a contract for the supply of ambulances by the Ministry of Health to Grandview International Limited of Zambia.
They want the ACB to investigate how the contract was awarded to a foreign company when a local company participated in the bid and offered to supply the same at a much lower price.
The CSOs further want the ACB to explain progress on investigations into Peter Mutharika’s role in the cement saga.
The CSO leaders are also trying to impress upon Parliament to make ACB probe the K7.6 billion legal fees award by the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal to Vice-President Saulos Chilima and President Lazarus Chakwera’s lawyers in the presidential elections case this year.