- Impounds computers, files from valuer Chihana
Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) officials on Friday raided offices of Yeremiah Chihana, the government-hired valuer of the estate of former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika, and went away with computers and files after a six-hour search.
Chihana, proprietor of YMW Property Investment in Lilongwe, in an interview yesterday confirmed the raid by MRA officials who were accompanied by armed police officers.
He said officials from the public tax collector took two files, a desktop computer and a laptop computer containing information about the Bingu estate. The search started around 3.30pm and ended at 9.30pm, according to Chihana.
Chihana said the MRA officials, who were five in number, produced a search warrant obtained from the BlantyreMagistrate’s Court which he signed. He identified three of the officials through their business cards as Gerald Ngondoma, Christopher Chidammodzi and a Mrs. Mumba.
Said Chihana: “They [MRA officials] said they wanted the Bingu estate files, but when I told them that they [files] are also available at the Registrar’s and Attorney General [AG] offices, they said they wanted to find out whether I paid tax on the fees I collected for carrying out a valuation exercise of the estate.”
MRA officials played hide-and-seek on the issue since Sunday, with deputy director for corporate affairs Steven Kapoloma saying he needed to consult.
However, yesterday, Kapoloma said he was in Zomba attending the Ministry of Finance’s pre-budget consultation meeting while MRA marketing communications manager Wilma Chalulu asked for a questionnaire which was yet to be responded to by close of business yesterday.
The officers then started their search and asked to take the files and two computers—a desktop and laptop—to Blantyre.
Chihana, who was engaged by the administration of former president Joyce Banda to evaluate Bingu’s estate in 2012, said he was not worried with the seizure of the computers, maintaining that he was innocent.
He said: “I did not receive any payment for the work I did; hence, no need to pay tax. If that is the only reason they have taken the computers, then my conscience is clear.”
According to Chihana, he got K42 million for operational expenses out of which K22 million was given to the Mutharika family.
He said: “The exercise needed extensive travels; hence, we needed the money. But for the payment of the work, I got nothing.”
Bingu died on April 5 2012 and Chihana valued his estate at K61 billion, an assessment the Mutharika family disputed as an exaggeration. n