The list of property the State has seized from former president Peter Mutharika’s top bodyguard, Norman Chisale, has 86 motor vehicles and 21 real properties that include residential houses and commercial buildings.
Chisale’s lawyer Chancy Gondwe said, in an interview yesterday, that he was yet to get instructions on the matter as they had not yet been served with the High Court preservation order issued by Justice Mike Tembo on Thursday.
“We shall respond accordingly when we study the order. We shall take the necessary legal steps the moment the order has been served on our client,” he said.
But Gondwe hinted that the list of property is misleading, arguing Chisale, who is answering to a number of criminal cases related to fraud and money laundering, does not own all the listed property.
The High Court granted government the order to seize assets from Chisale estimated at K1.7 billion, a move which is unprecedented in Malawi for the State to seize property on that scale of an accused person before trial or conviction is secured.
Previously, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has frozen assets of suspects mostly bank accounts but the current order obtained by the State is far more sweeping.
Of the 86 motor vehicles listed, the State attached 63 cars to the name Norman P Chisale as importer, and left blank spaces on 23 others.
The cars include Range Rovers, Jeep Wrangler, Landcruisers, Mercedes Benz, BMW X5 and Prados. Also frozen are two bank accounts, one at National Bank, Capital City Branch with a cash balance of over K30 million, and the other held at First Capital Bank with cash balance of over K87 million.
Some of the 21 real properties seized are houses in suburbs and commercial buildings in Blantyre, Lilongwe, Dedza and Ntcheu and also Zimatha Executive Lodge in Mangochi. Also seized is Namauya Investments Depot in Ntcheu.
Six other respondents the State listed on the application are Chimwemwe Paulosi, Deborah Zimatha Chisale, Esnart Guga, Flony Guga, Jannet Fatch Kamanga, connected to the property at Title No. Blantyre Central 937 CBD, registered in her name and Christina Mvula.
The application was jointly applied by the ACB, the Director of Public Prosecutions through assets forfeiture unit, Financial Intelligence Unit and Malawi Police Service Fiscal and Fraud Department.
Malawians were constantly questioning the accumulation of wealth by Chisale during the administration of the ousted Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), but none of these State agencies acted, confirming fears that sometimes the law is applied selectively.
In the order, judge Tembo ordered that the claimant shall cause the preservation order to be published in the Government Gazette or two newspapers of the widest circulation within 21 days.
“The respondents or any persons are prohibited from disposing of, or otherwise dealing with, the whole or part thereof or interest therein of the property specified in this order or directed by the court,” reads the order in part.
The court said the respondents or any interested third party wishing to oppose the order should file their notice in terms of section 66 of the Financial Crimes Act.
In one case, Chisale is accused of importing cement worth K5 billion duty free using the name of the former president Peter Mutharika.