Malawi Police Service(MPS) has interdicted two of its senior officers, Innocent Bottoman and GrantKachingwe following their arrest by the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) for theiralleged involvement in the K2.7 billion food rations deal.
Bottoman, a commissioner, and Kachingwe, a senior superintendent, were arrested on Tuesday and Wednesday alongside businessperson Zameer Karim for various offences in relation to the food rations deal, through alleged acquisition of proceeds of crime amounting to K466 million which Karim claimed as additional payment on the initial contract amount in 2015.
They were released on bail last Wednesday by Lilongwe chief resident magistrate Violet Palikena Chipawo after being charged with four counts of uttering false documents, abuse of office, acquiring proceeds of a crime and forging documents to get the K466 million released.
National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera yesterday confirmed the interdiction but did not provide details on the conditions of the interdiction.
“All I can tell you is that the Office of the Inspector General has received official communication from the ACB that it arrested two of our members. So, currently the two are answering administrative procedures, but I am not in a position to tell you the terms of the interdiction,” he said.
ACB has since committed the case to be transferred to the High Court from the Senior Resident Magistrate’s Court.
ACB director general Reyneck Matemba said yesterday the court has set a date for the committal proceedings.
“The court has set the 13th of December 2018 as a date for the committal proceedings,” he said.
In an interview yesterday, a governance commentator, who did not want to be named, said the corruption happened on the K2.7 billion contract because of political interference which is affecting duties of the police service.
He said it becomes difficult when those involved in corruption are senior officers in the service that are untouchable by the juniors investigating such incidences.
In criminal case number 1586 of 2018 between the Republic vs Karim, the first accused has three counts, Bottoman who is the second accused, also has three counts while Kachingwe, the third accused, has one count.
Bottoman is being accused of uttering false documents contrary to Section 360 of the Penal Code, which the magistrate said he presented to CDH Investment Bank to enable Karim’s firm, Pioneer Investments, to access a loan.
He is also being accused of abuse of office contrary to Section 25 (b)(1) of the Corrupt Practices Act while serving as director of finance at MPS headquarters.
He is alleged to have unilaterally made an undertaking and commitment to CDH Investment Bank to facilitate a loan to Pioneer Investments and that MPS would pay for the businessperson. He is also accused of acquiring proceeds of crime amounting to K466 million.
Kachingwe’s charge is one of forging a document which allowed Karim to access the said loan.
Karim of Pioneer Investments is facing counts of theft of K466 million contrary to Section 278 of the Penal Code, forging and uttering a false document presented to CDH Investment Bank to access the loan contrary to Sections 356 and 360 of the Penal Code and acquiring proceeds of crime (K466 million) contrary to Section 42 (1) of the Financial Crimes Act.
The court released the three on bail last week following a plea by one of the defence lawyers, Ian Malera, who submitted that the suspects were family men and that it was within their right to seek and be granted bail pending trial.
The case follows a leaked ACB investigations dossier which established that the signature of a co-signatory on Bottoman’s letter to CDH Investment Bank, Bottoman’s deputy Tadius Samveka, was forged.
In January this year, the former Auditor General Stephenson Kamphasa told Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee that the MPS-Pioneer Investment contract was null and void and withdrew an initial consent for government to pay K567 million in interest.