Immediate past president Peter Mutharika has moved the courts to push the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to allow him access to his bank accounts the graft-busting body froze in August.
Briefing journalists in Lilongwe yesterday on progress of investigations and prosecution of various corruption complaints and cases, ACB director general Reyneck Matemba said the High Court has since set December 22 2020 as the date to hear Mutharika’s application.
“We had discussions with his [Mutharika’s] lawyers. They requested us to unfreeze his accounts, we refused and we both agreed that the court should be involved to make a decision on the matter,” he said.
Efforts to speak to Mutharika’s lawyer Samuel Tembenu on the matter proved futile despite several attempts yesterday.
In August this year, the ACB froze bank accounts of Mutharika, his wife and former first lady Gertrude Mutharika, former State Residences chief of staff Peter Mukhito, Malawi Revenue Authority deputy commissioner general Roza Mbilizi and Mutharika’s personal bodyguard Norman Chisale. The decision was made in connection with an investigation into the alleged importation of cement worth K5billion into the country by businessperson Shaffie Chunara allegedly using Mutharika’s privileges as head of State.
The law allows the bureau to freeze assets for preservation from disposal of suspected proceeds of crime pending conclusion of investigations under the Corrupt Practices Act and the Financial
In September, the bureau indicated that it was allowing and other officials whose accounts were frozen to make withdrawals on request for payments for daily necessities.
During the briefing, Matemba also indicated that there are pending arrests of more suspects in connection with a complaint the bureau received in February 2020 alleging that the Department of Lands leased Plot Number LW 1366 in Kanjedza Forest, belonging to the Department of Forestry, to former Cabinet minister in Mutharika’s administration Charles Mchacha without following proper procedures.
He said one of the suspects to be arrested was a member of Parliament (MP) and that the other suspect is currently out of the country.
Matemba said: “We know the law on immunity, we are fully conversant with the law on parliamentary immunity.
“We did not breach any law when we arrested Honourable Mchacha at his home in Bvumbwe [Thyolo]. The law says they are immune at Parliament and while going to Parliament.
“The second MP whom we want to arrest was already on parliamentary duties.”
Last week, the bureau arrested Mchacha and Ministry of Defence Principal Secretary (PS) Bright Kumwembe, who was PS in the
Matemba: We are fully conversant with the lawMinistry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development at the time of the land transaction.
The State charged Mchacha with four counts, including inducing public officers to corruptly perform duties to award him a plot in Kanjedza Forest, Blantyre.
Kumwembe, on the other hand, is facing two counts of neglect of duty and giving false information.
Giving an update on complaints lodged to the bureau to date, Matemba said ACB has received 27 new complaints since the last update in September.
He also said the bureau is monitoring the implementation of Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP).