The Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court on Friday granted bail to former minister of Finance Joseph Mwanamvekha and former Reserve Bank governor Dalitso Kabambe, who served under the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
The two, who are aspiring for DPP presidency, are accused of doctoring financial figures that were submitted to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank while they were in office, and are answering to counts of abuse of office and false accounting.
Mwanamvekha was arrested on Tuesday while Kabambe handed himself over to police on Wednesday.
Delivering the ruling on bail application, senior resident magistrate Florence Msekandiwana observed that the State failed to prove that the two would jeopardise evidence if granted bail.
“The State needed concrete evidence, but instead only made assertions that the suspects are close to some of the witnesses and so they may interfere with evidence if granted bail. The court; therefore, has dismissed the application by the State,” she said.
Mwanamvekha and Kabambe were granted bail on conditions that they each pay a K1 million bail-bond, report to Area 30 Police Headquarters fortnightly and, surrender their travel documents. They were also asked to provide two sureties each on a K5 million non-cash bail-bond.
On Thursday, the State, through the Director of Public Prosecutions Steve Kayuni, requested to have the suspects in custody for the next seven days, pending investigations.
Kayuni argued that the suspects are close to some of the witnesses, so they would tamper with evidence, including documents.
He also said considering the gravity of the offence, the court should consider extending their remand time.
But the defence lawyers objected to the State’s requests.
Mwanamvekha’s lawyer Mercy Chijere told the court that it was illogical to continue keeping the suspects on remand on the basis of investigations.
“If that is the case, then the State should have done thorough investigations before arresting the suspects,” she argued.
On his part, Kabambe’s lawyer Fostino Maere said the State had failed to present evidence on how the suspects would tamper with evidence if granted bail.
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 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 the facility.