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APM fights over frozen accounts

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Former president Arthur Peter Mutharika has dragged the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to court over the bureau’s decision to keep his personal bank accounts frozen.

The matter will come before the High Court sitting in Blantyre on December 27. ACB in August this year froze Mutharika’s accounts, including those of his wife Gertrude and Malawi Revenue Authority former deputy director-general Roza Mbilizi, as part of investigations into the duty-free importation of 400,000 bags of cement worth K5 billion from Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The bureau’s directorgeneral Reyneck Matemba said yesterday, during a press briefing in Lilongwe, that they had refused Mutharika access to his Matemba said he saw nothing wrong with the decision as ACB was within the required 90-day rule.

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“We are still investigating the use and abuse of the [former] president’s TPIN [Tax Payer Identification Number]. We are working closely with the Malawi Police Service, the fiscal and fraud unit, and we are making good progress. “APM requested the ACB to have access to money in his account and for us to unfreeze the account. What we advised the counsel for the former president is to go to court if they are not satisfied with the decision,” he said, adding that the case would have its day at the High Court sitting in Blantyre on December 27 this month.

In a separate interview, Mutharika’s lawyer in the matter, Samuel Tembenu, confirmed to have started the court process but said he would speak on the matter once the court deliberates on the issue.

“I will grant you an interview after the case is heard,” he said. Updating Malawians on cases the bureau has in its hands, Matemba said two more arrests would be effected in the case involving Democratic Progressive Party regional governor for the Southern Region Charles Mchacha and Secretary for Defence Bright Kumwembe.

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“One is a member of Parliament and even though we have a warrant of arrest for him, we cannot arrest him because he is conducting parliamentary business. We will be able to invite him next week and formally charge him. The other person is out of the country and we got in touch with him. We hope he will be able to cooperate to answer the allegations. If not, we will use other legal means,” Matemba said.

Kumwembe and Mchacha were arrested for allegedly influencing a public officer to lease a plot to his daughter Caroline Mchacha— the plot allegedly belongs to the Department of Forestry— while Kumwembe has been
charged with giving false information and negligence on duty.

The graft-bursting body also indicated that it was monitoring closely implementation of Affordable Input Programme. According to Matemba, a preliminary investigation has revealed that farmers are prone to abuse due to challenges— including that of poor network— that the programme is facing.

Amidst the wave of corruption allegations, the country will join the rest of the world in commemorating International AntiCorruption Day on December 9 2020. The day comes at a time the ACB indicates that K1.8 trillion is lost to corruption in the country.

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