Debate on former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika’s K61 billion wealth refuses to die with the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament vowing to probe allegations that part of it was illegally obtained.
It is also reported that Mutharika stashed some of his wealth in foreign bank accounts.
The committee’s interest in the former president’s wealth comes after Mzimba West member of Parliament (MP) Harry Mkandawire (People’s Party-PP) raised the issue in the National Assembly last week.
Speaking in an interview yesterday, committee vice-chairperson Kamlepo Kalua said his body would summon the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) once the budget meeting comes to an end.
He said the committee wants the three institutions to testify and provide information pertaining to transactions that allegedly took place under their noses between 2004 and 2012.
Said Kalua: “We will empower these institutions to trace the money to the countries where the accounts are held and then probe the source of that money.”
However, Bingu’s estate is under contention with the possibility that his K61 billion will remain untouched for several years.
But Kalua, who is Rumphi East MP (PP), said Parliament, as an oversight body, would not be daunted and the beneficiaries of the Mutharika estate would pay back to Malawians what belonged to them if the probe found the late president to be at fault.
According to Standing Order 161, PAC is mandated to consider and report on audited public accounts and examine other documents concerning financial controls, accounting and auditing in relation to public expenditure.
The committee has to satisfy itself that there are cases involving nugatory expenditure and financial irregularities in a year under study or in reports of the Auditor General.
PAC has previously supported a probe in Cashgate—the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill exposed in 2013—which resulted in a forensic audit currently under consideration by the House, leading to the arrest and prosecution of several government officers and business persons.
The planned probe comes on the heels of another call by a cluster committee on Budget and Finance during the ongoing budget meeting to probe the theft of public funds beyond the borders.
ACB has confirmed that about K45 million has been allocated for such an exercise to speed up investigations into Cashgate-related plunder in the 2016/17 budget.