ACB probes Joyce Banda over oil deal
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has started investigating the whereabouts of the proceeds from multimillion oil contracts the Joyce Banda administration reached with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The ACB investigations started after a successful review of the deal following a complaint by the Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) Executive Director, John Kapito, in 2013.
In an email response, ACB Senior Public Relations Officer, Egrita Ndala, said after the review of the complaint, the Bureau found merit in it, hence the investigations.
“Normally, every complaint that comes to our office, we review it to see if there is merit to take action. So, when the review [committee] has found merit on the complaint, they recommend investigations,” Ndala explained.
She said the reviewing committee writes the Director of the Bureau for consent for investigations to commence on a matter.
Ndala further said for this particular complaint, the ACB Director granted authority for the complaint to be investigated.
“The complaint was processed. The matter is still being investigated. This matter is complex and crosses jurisdictions, hence will take some time to get to the conclusion,” Ndala said.
In 2013, the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) asked for more time to explain the whereabouts of the U$831,370 proceeds from the crude oil.
The money was part of royalties amounting to U$1, 256, 081.70 given to the Presidential Initiative on Poverty Alleviation and Hunger Reduction under the OPC to buy legumes for export.
But when Cama tried to follow up the issue then, it was learnt that the proceeds had vanished.
The oil deal was facilitated by Anyiam- Osigwe group of Nigeria at a time Malawi was struggling economically and was facing acute fuel shortages.
Since then, no government official has come into the open to officially explain how much Malawi earned from the deal.
When told about the matter three weeks ago, government spokesperson Jappie Mhango asked for a questionnaire which he always promises to respond to when reminded about it.
Banda’s spokesperson Andekuche Chanthunya asked for more time before he responds on the issue.
But in a letter dated October 29, 2015, Cama faults OPC for continued silence on the matter.
In an interview on tuesday, Kapito urged ACB to provide the public with basic details on the steps it has taken on issues that are drawing public interest.
“If they remain silent and keep investigating the issue for 20 years, it will be suspicious as to what really they are investigating,” he said.
He questioned ACB’s position on the matter when it said that the issue will talk long to conclude because it involves two jurisdictions.
Kapito said ACB should ask the recipient office here in Malawi to indicate who received and benefited from the proceeds of the oil deal.
The Malawi deal was reportedly initiated by the former president Bingu wa Mutharika.
Banda completed the deal after Mutharika died in April 2012.
The contract gave Malawi the approval to buy and sell 30,000 barrels of crude oil from the NNPC per day as specified in the lifting schedule for each month, with an aggregate approval of over half a million barrels a month for the country.
After Malawi failed to deliver a conditional upfront fee of $2.5 million, Anyiam- Osigwe offered to facilitate a rescue from a different company, Petroleos De Geneve SA Ltd (PDG), the agent firm he enlisted to act for Malawi.
It remains unclear if PDG paid $2.5 million needed before the first uplift was made
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