Former Reserve Bank of Malawi Governor Dalitso Kabambe and former finance minister Joseph Mwanamvekha have spent another night in custody after Lilongwe senior resident magistrate Florence Msekandiana reserved her ruling on their bail application to this afternoon.
The two presidential hopefuls for the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) were arrested on different days—Mwanamveka on Tuesday—and Kabambe surrendered himself to police on Wednesday.
They are accused of falsifying figures that were presented to IMF and World Bank and are answering to two counts of abuse of office and false accounting.
The State on Thursday, through the Director of Public Prosecutions Steve Kayuni, requested to have the suspects in custody for the next seven days to allow them complete investigations.
He said the suspects are close to some witnesses and that they would easily tamper with evidence including documentation.
Kayuni also said considering the seriousness of the offence the court should consider extension of remand time.
However, the defence lawyers objected to this suggestion.
Mwanamveka’s lawyer Mercy Chijere told the court that it was illogical to deny suspects bail on the basis of investigations.
She said: “If that is the case, then the State should have first completed investigations before effecting an arrest.”
Counsel Fostino Maere representing Kabambe said the State had failed to present evidence on how granting bail to the suspects would jeopardise investigations.
He contended that while the State claimed that the suspects are close to witnesses, his client does not have an idea who these witnesses are since they have not been disclosed.
Maere went on to remind the court that his client is on bail for six months on another offence and he has no record of defying bail conditions; hence, must be granted bail even on this case.
The magistrate is expected to make a ruling on whether to grant bail or not this afternoon.
Court records show that the two, in their capacity as Minister of Finance and central bank governor, procured and masterminded the falsification of gross liability and net reserve base returns with intent to make the International Monetary Fund (IMF) believe that the Government of Malawi was meeting conditions connected with the extended credit facility (ECF).
The scheme is said to have led to cancellation of $108 million under ECF.
At the end of his mission to Malawi in October this year, IMF director of African Department Abebe Aemro Selassie said the fund was “seriously” concerned about a misreporting case on some of the targets during the implementation of the cancelled ECF under the DPP regime.
Another top DPP official, Ben Phiri, a former minister of Local Government, did not appear before the court on Thursday. He surrendered himself to police on Wednesday on allegations of fraud at the Ministry of Gender.
He is suspected to have defrauded the ministry of K200 million.