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Anti-Corruption Bureau summoned on DPP consent

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SUMMONED—Chizuma

The Legal Affairs Committee (Lac) of Parliament Wednesday resolved to summon Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General Martha Chizuma, who will be grilled on issues pertaining to the prosecution of businessman Zuneth Sattar’s agent, Ashok Nair.

Lac members made the decision after a meeting with Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Steven Kayuni, who recently turned down ACB’s request for consent to prosecute Nair.

In his response to the ACB request, Kayuni said the graft-busting body did not provide a full report of investigations, a move that prompted committee members to summon him.

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Appearing before committee members Wednesday, Kayuni said his office did not deny Chizuma consent but, rather, asked for all documents related to the case.

The meeting later proceeded in camera but, speaking later, Lac Chairperson Peter Dimba said committee members were interested in Chizuma’s side of the story before making a decision.

“We, as a committee, do not want to say much on the meeting until we meet the Director General of the Anti- Corruption Bureau,” he said.

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Nevertheless, Dimba said the law allows Kayuni to give consent or withhold it after going through a request and accompanying documents.

He further stressed the need for collaboration between government agencies in the fight against corruption.

“What is coming out clearly is that we, as a country, need to come together to fight corruption because it has denied our people the much-needed resources for the development of the country,” he said.

In the letter to ACB, Kayuni asked for a full report of investigations, other than an interim one, on Nair, who was released on bail by the courts recently.

In the letter, Kayuni argued that it was impossible to make a decision based on an interim report.

The DPP further indicated that he was surprised that ACB officials made findings and recommendations based on the interim report of investigations.

According to Kayuni, other relevant documents that accompany applications for consent to prosecute include a full report of investigations, legal opinion, proposed changes and consent letter.

“These documents are crucial for the purposes of a proper and independent analysis of the evidence and the law.

“We would be failing in duty bestowed on us by law if we turn the granting of consent into an academic exercise or merely endorsement of what the ACB had duly submitted,” the letter reads.

Nair is suspected to have been facilitating corrupt deals here in Malawi on behalf of Sattar, who was arrested by the United Kingdom’s National Crimes Agency last year.

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