Principal witness in the K1.7 billion ($2.4 million at current rate) corruption case involving former president Bakili Muluzi yesterday acknowledged that he had no evidence of corruption in the transactions worth over K500 million ($684 932) deposited into Muluzi’s different bank accounts.
The development brings the total figure of subtracted money to over K600 million ($821 918) following an earlier deduction of about K100 million ($136 986) in April this year.
The amount was part of the cumulative figure of K1.7 billion, which the State initially considered to have been corruptly obtained by the former president when he was still in power between 1994 and 2004.
When trial resumed yesterday after a two -month break, the defence counsel, led by Tamando Chokotho, continued cross-examining the key witness, Victor Banda, a former assistant director and head of prosecution for Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
In the examination, Banda agreed that the money be struck off from the K1.7 billion because he had no evidence that Muluzi obtained the money corruptly due to absence of records and explanation from him.
Among others, the money in question was deposited into Muluzi’s different bank accounts by his Ntaja Trading Company Limited, University of Malawi (Unima), Auction Holdings Limited (AHL), Knight Frank, Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc), Comfort General Dealers and Lawson and Company.
Other deposits were in cash.
The money was deposited into Muluzi’s accounts between 1998, when he was still in office and 2005, a year after his retirement in 2004.
However, the defence later requested the court to compel the State to relook at the charge sheet and amend it after the State added a loan transaction of about K20 million ($27 397), which Muluzi took from Loita Bank, to be considered as “money obtained corruptly.”
“We were wondering why Dr Muluzi should be answering charges of corruption involving transactions made after he had already left office and other transactions which the State obviously knows do not hold any water.
“Those cases are only delaying the progress of the matter and the best they should do is to amend the charge sheet to avoid a protracted trial of the case,” said Chokotho.
However, presiding Judge Maclean Kamwambe reserved his determination, saying the defence’s plea would be answered when court resumes today.
In June, State lead counsel Clement Mwala requested the court to grant it a 30-day period to review some counts against the accused.
However, when hearing resumed yesterday, the State maintained the same charge sheet , a development Chokotho described as a “waste of time.”
Said Chokotho: “It is unfortunate that we wasted three months to review the charge sheet, but the State has brought the same counts and charge sheet.”
Today, the court is expected to cross-examine Banda, particularly on receipts of foreign money.
Muluzi is being accused alongside Violet Whiskey, his former personal assistant, of corruptly acquiring about $11 million (K1.7 billion then) when Muluzi was in power.
The case has been running since 2009 and trial resumed on April 11 2016 and over K100 million has so far been deducted from the said K1.7 billion the two are accused to have fraudulently acquired.