The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) has denied the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) consent to prosecute CDH Investment Bank (CDHIB) chief executive officer (CEO) Misheck Esau, both ACB and DPP have confirmed.
Esau and CDH were being accused of failure to conduct due diligence on Zameer Karim of Pioneer Investments.
Karim is being accused of theft of K466 million contrary to Section 278 of the Penal Code, uttering a false document presented to CDHIB to access a loan contrary to sections 356 and 360 of the Penal Code, and acquiring proceeds of crime contrary to Section 42 (1) of the Financial Crimes Act.
Karim was arrested together with two senior police officers, police commissioner Innocent Botomani and senior superintendent Grant Kachingwe.
In March this year, ACB arrested Esau in relation to Karim’s case and charged him with several counts, including conspiracy contrary to Section 35 as read with Section 25B of the Corrupt Practices Act (CPA); failure to conduct due diligence and monitoring contrary to Section 29 of the Financial Crimes Act; influencing the use of public office for advantage contrary to Section 25B (2) of the CPA; and money laundering contrary to Section 42 (1) (c) of the Financial Crimes Act.
However, the DPP has written ACB, ahead of a court appearance that was slated for September 19 2019, refusing to grant consent to prosecute Esau and CDHIB. The DPP has not yet provided a reason.
But Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs senior state advocate, who is also the spokesperson for DPP, Pirirani Masanjala, said in a written response to a questionnaire that the DPP will give the reasons for denying ACB the consent to the Legal Affairs Committee (LAC) of Parliament.
He said: “Section 42 of the Corrupt Practices Act gives the DPP 30 days within which to provide a report to the Legal Affairs Committee in every situation where consent is denied. The DPP is in the process of complying with that requirement and considers it appropriate that reasons for the decision be made available to the LAC first.”
However, Masanjala said the DPP gave directions under Section 76 (2) of the CPA that Karim, Botomani and Kachingwe’s cases should proceed.
“That case and the one in issue in law may be prosecuted separately. It is, therefore, in the in interest of justice and equally appropriate to proceed with that other case,” he said.
ACB director Reyneck Matemba confirmed in a telephone interview that the DPP wrote the bureau a brief note refusing to grant the anti-graft body consent to prosecute Esau and CDH Investment Bank.
“I can confirm that we have not been given consent to prosecute Esau and CDH Investment Bank. The instruction came in a brief note that did not disclose the reasons. However, it indicated that a formal letter would follow,” he said.
Matemba, however, said the case for Karim, who was on record to have deposited K145 million into President Peter Mutharika’s Standard Bank account, will continue.
Meanwhile, lawyer representing Esau, Alick Msowoya, has described the DPP’s decision as professional.
He said in an interview on Monday that he was happy that the DPP has made a professional decision to deny ACB the consent to prosecute Esau.
Said Msowoya: “They have not given us any communication [yet]. We knew there was nothing. They should not have started the process.”
ACB cleared Mutharika of wrongdoing in the case, saying the President did not personally benefit from the transaction. DPP later pledged to refund the money to Pioneer Investments.
Botomani was accused of uttering false documents while Kachingwe was charged with forging a document which was presented to CDHIB and allowed Karim to access the loan.
Following the allegations, Esau stepped aside from the position of CEO of the CDHIB in March this year to pave the way for investigations. The bank’s deputy CEO Jean Rene Ngando Moukala assumed the duties and responsibilities of CEO of the bank in an acting capacity.