The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has said it will allow former president Peter Mutharika to access part of the funds in his frozen accounts to cater for his “general use” as required by the law.
However, the ACB has turned down Mutharika’s plea that his accounts be unfrozen to allow him unlimited access to his money.
ACB Director General Reyneck Matemba said this in an interview when asked to give an update on the application by Mutharika’s lawyers to have his accounts freed.
Two weeks ago, Mutharika told journalists at his Mangochi residence that he was using borrowed money after the graft-busting body froze his accounts on suspicion that he benefited from proceeds of the sale of cement which was illegally imported using his Tax Payer Identification Number (TIPN).
At the presser, Mutharika said he had instructed his lawyers to ask the courts to free his accounts.
While confirming that the ACB received a request from Mutharika’s lawyers to have the accounts freed, Matemba said the law mandates them to freeze the accounts for 90 days.
“The same law also allows an extension of the 90 days which can be applied [for] at the court. But, as of our case, we have told the former president that we would not require the entire 90 days because we are almost through with our investigations,” Matemba said.
In view of this, Matemba said the ACB had yielded to Mutharika’s second request to be accessing part of the funds for general purposes as required by law.
“He is not the first person to be allowed to access funds from frozen account. The law allows that, especially when the money being required is for food, school fees and medical purposes because everyone is considered innocent until proven guilty by the court of law. We will tell Malawians when Mutharika accesses [funds from] his account to ensure transparency and accountability,” Matemba said.
About six weeks ago, ACB froze bank accounts for Mutharika, his security aide Norman Chisale, former director of State Residences Peter Mukhitho and former deputy commissioner general of Malawi Revenue Authority Roza Mbilizi on allegations that they benefited from the illegal importation of cement from Zambia using Mutharika’s TIPN.