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ACB, Jeffrey settle for K19.4 million

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By Macdonald Thom:

MATEMBA—We are talking about tax-payers’ money here

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and lawyers representing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) secretary general Grezelder Jeffrey and three others have agreed that the four should pay the bureau K19.4 million in legal costs.

The ACB initially claimed K23 million from Jeffrey, Brian Kachigwe, Agnes Kaphikire (personal representative to the late Phillip Kaphikire) and Tadala Chakhaza (personal representatives of the late Brighton Chakhaza) after, in January, the four lost a case in which they were claiming compensation in excess of K70 billion following their acquittal of a corruption case in 2011.

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Assessment of the money the ACB is claiming was done at the High Court in Lilongwe yesterday. The bureau’s director general, Reyneck Matemba, confirmed the developments.

“Yes, it has been reduced by about K3,600,000. In fact, that is what happens when you go for assessment; the initial figure claimed may go down following negotiations. This is because our initial claim of K23,000,000 was based on approximations of the time we spent and the resources we used to defend the case. This, therefore, means that we will get about K19,400,000 in legal costs, which is good enough for us.

“We are talking about tax payers’ money here, the costs awarded will therefore be channeled back to the tax payers, through the Treasury,” he said.

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Lawyer Abison Chitukula, who represented Jeffrey and others on behalf of lawyer Ralph Mhone, while not giving the exact amount, concurred with Matemba.

“Of course, the amount has gone down. We have not yet made the calculations. But it should be close to K20 million or slightly below that,” Chitukula said.

Jeffrey and others were seeking compensation for false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, loss of business and properties, breach of contract and defamation following their acquittal.

Judge Charles Mkandawire initially made a default judgement, following the bureau’s failure to defend the matter.

But, last year, ACB applied for rehearing and the court accepted.

The Daily Times, however, understands that one of the conditions was that the bureau should pay Jeffrey and others costs of the initial proceedings. The agreed amount was K13.5 million.

Meanwhile, Chitukula has described the new amount the four complainants are making as fair.

“Considering that the court also ordered the ACB to pay K13.5 million in the same proceedings. I look at the amount as fair to both parties,”

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