Anti-Corruption Bureau targets 80 properties
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has disclosed that it is investigating a maximum of 80 properties locally, indicating that its officials want to understand how the properties were obtained.
The bureau’s director general (DG) Martha Chizuma said they have started exerting more energy on asset recovery than litigation which, she said, takes a long time and is expensive.
Chizuma cited cases such as the K2.7 billion Paul Mphwiyo Cashgate case and the K1.7 billion Bakili Muluzi case, which have taken nine and 15 years, respectively.
She said where information has not added up, they have been getting preservation orders from the courts.
Such orders lead to the seizure and forfeiture of property in question.
“When people talk about corruption cases, they want justice today; yesterday actually. Now, there has always been a law on forfeiting or seizing assets that are tented. Under the Corrupt Practices Act, there is a law on unexplained wealth and, also, under the Financial Crimes Act, there is what we call non-criminal-based forfeiture. So, having noted that the prosecution of cases is taking long, we felt that, maybe, it’s high time we exerted more energy on the asset recovery process,” Chizuma said.
The DG said they have set up a team of about 15 people responsible for asset recovery, which consists of five lawyers and investigators.
“It’s a process but, at least, it’s a process that, according to the law, goes a bit quicker and we are hoping that the justice that the people are looking for may be through the convictions if we, as a bureau, can demonstrate that we are now able to recover stolen money, stolen buildings and assets back to the people of Malawi. That would provide a sense of justice to the people,” she said.
Recently, Chief Justice Rizine Mzikamanda reiterated that Malawi needs to move fast in recovering assets that were stolen through corruption and fraud.
He said the Judiciary was ready to speed up cases involving financial crimes.
The development comes after Parliament recently passed a bill authorising the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to establish a special court, called Economic Financial Crimes Court, as one way of expediting corruption cases.