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Anti-Corruption Bureau freezes State Residences account

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Christopher Mzomera Ngwira

Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General, Reyneck Matemba, has disclosed that ACB has frozen a State Residences account which is under investigation.

The account is linked to suspected shady dealings during the Peter Mutharika administration which included alleged illegal importation of cement from Zambia using the former president’s Taxpayer’s Identification Number (Tpin).

Matemba said this in Lilongwe during a press briefing to enlighten Malawians on the progress of cases the bureau is handling.

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He said the account remains frozen for 90 days and that if investigations are not concluded within the specified period, the bureau will apply for an extension.

According to the ACB boss, the account has been frozen to avoid disposal of assets and concealment of evidence on issues the bureau is investigating.

Matemba also disclosed that since July this year, the graft-busting body has recorded 181 cases and has so far reviewed 73 cases involving a total of K1.2 trillion. He said the ACB is also handling about 30 criminal cases.

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On the matter concerning the K145 million which businessman Zameer Karim allegedly deposited in a Democratic Progressive Party bank account whose sole signatory was Mutharika, Matemba said the graft-busting body cleared the former president because it had no evidence against him.

“ACB’s legal and prosecution department plus independent veteran prosecutors concluded after a review of the evidence that the former president had no case to answer in the Zameer Karim police food rations case. And following the change of government, I have discussed the issue with the Attorney General, Chikosa Silungwe, to review the case,” Matemba said.

He also told journalists that businessman Thom Mpinganjira, who is answering a charge of attempting to bribe High Court judges who heard the presidential election petition case, is appearing before the High Court on October 22.

Matemba has also disclosed that ACB is also prosecuting Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Governor for the North, Christopher Mzomera Ngwira, for another corruption case in Mzimba this month.

Ngwira has just been convicted and sentenced to four years imprisonment for abuse of office when he was Member of Parliament for Mzimba Hora Constituency.

ACB arrested the former lawmaker in 2018 following an allegation the bureau received in September 2010 over how Local Development Fund resources were used.

“Though sections of society have been complaining about the sum of money that led to the prosecution of Mzomera Ngwira, they should bear in mind that Ngwira deprived people of Mzimba Hora a chance to have a decent school block. The custodial sentence is to deter Members of Parliament from abusing Constituency Development Fund,” Matemba said.

He also said ACB has been receiving complaints on abuse of Constituency Development Fund; hence Ngwira should be one of the examples to would be offenders.

Matemba said the government has approved a new split funding arrangement which will facilitate smooth access to funds by the bureau.

He disclosed that ACB has eight lawyers to handle all the cases and that the government has approved a new remuneration package for the lawyers so that they should be motivated in their work and to attract more lawyers to the institution.

So far, the ACB has issued three restriction notices to the Ministry of Health over the purchase of ambulances from Zambia, Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority in relation to the employment of some staff and the Ministry of Agriculture.

He said the institution has received 20 allegations from the Human Rights Defenders Coalition’s whistle-blower initiative and two cases from the National Integrity Platform.

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