The office of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has requested for a mutual assistance through Attorney General (AG) office to allow international legal firms help with investigations of suspicious off-shore accounts linked to fraud at the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM).
A mutual assistance in Criminal Matters Act of 1991 states in part that a mutual assistance is where the appropriate authority in Malawi has reasonable grounds to believe that evidence or information relevant to any criminal matter may be obtained if in a Commonwealth country, information is provided, a request may be transmitted by such authority requesting that assistance to be given.
Former Attorney General Chikosa Silungwe in an interview two weeks ago said the request was being processed.
Our sources confided in this paper that the foreign accounts are located in United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Mauritius but could not say how much is in the accounts.
DPP Steven Kayuni on Thursday this week asked the magistrate court in Lilongwe for a 45-days’ adjournment to complete preparations but the court only granted a 30-day extension.
Kayuni also disclosed in court that the investigations will extend to the three countries of UAE, Egypt and Mauritius but did not give further details.
Last month police arrested and charged former RBM governor Kabambe, 48, former RBM deputy governor for operations Henry Mathanga, 59, director of financial markets operations Rodrick Wiyo and Leah Donga, 43, senior finance and market operations dealer, of abuse of office. The suspects are currently on bail and are yet to take plea.
When contacted for comment, the DPP could not be drawn to comment on specifics but indicated that the probe will be done pursuant to international cooperation of law enforcement agencies.
He also hinted that the State is racing against time to conclude the investigations.
Said Kayuni: “Investigations are in session; they are within and without Malawi. We await conclusion of the same and inform the honourable court on processes as per the dictates of the law.”
According to the DPP, the probe is being done together with other law enforcement agencies such as Fiscal Police, Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) and Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA).
When asked on the role of FIA in the investigations, the authority’s spokesperson Masautso Abel said on Wednesday: “FIA has no comment on that question.”
In 2014, the ACB through the DPP sought assistance from the Department of Justice of the US and Interpol, to help the graft-busting body in tracing bank accounts of former president Bingu wa Mutharika in the United Kingdom, United States and Zimbabwe.
However the probe led to nowhere following unsuccessful attempts to enter into intra-jurisdictional alliances.
Mutharika’s wealth was valued at K61 billion accumulated in the eight years he was in power from 2004 to 2012.
In 2004, Mutharika declared to the Speaker of Parliament that his wealth was K150 million.
The RBM audit report includes details of how RBM officials bypassed their own rules and regulations to authorise several suspicious payments, issue letters of credit to companies without due diligence, procured contracts against procurement laws and paid a local bank suspicious sums of money.
The forensic audit also probed how Ministry of Homeland Security was allegedly embroiled in a corruption scandal in January 2020 that saw K9.7 billion siphoned from the Prisons Department through RBM in a dubious purchase of overpriced materials worth $18 million from UAE with eight contracts awarded to one supplier.