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Bingu wa Mutharika wealth inquiry on

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The Public Accounts Committee (Pac) of Parliament is expected to conduct its proposed public inquiry into former president, the late Bingu wa Mutharika’s alleged K72 billion estate, during the six-week committee meetings beginning August 28.

In April, the committee abandoned the entrusting of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), National Audit Office (Nao) and Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) with responsibility of probing the matter, opting for the inquiry.

After meeting the three agencies for two days in April, the committee concluded the institutions had either decided to hide information or completely failed to perform their duties on the probe of Mutharika’s unexplained wealth.

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ACB said it was struggling to access information on bank accounts and property in foreign countries whereas Nao said cross-border investigations could take many years, hence needed the support of other agencies. FIU insisted that it was only involved in intelligence.

Pac Chairperson, Alekeni Menyani, Tuesday said the committee sought additional funding from the World Bank-sponsored and Treasury-housed financial management project named Financial Reporting and Oversight Improvement Project (Froip).

“As we speak, we just got a nod from the World Bank on Friday and now we are sitting down to do a proper action plan,” Menyani said.

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He said the secretariat at Parliament is finalising the work plan and the committee will look at the plan before approving it for the processing of summoning to begin.

“When the work plan comes out this Friday, that is the only time we will be in a position to know who comes, where, what and when. We cannot start summoning people in the newspapers before we have even written them. That is very unprofessional,” Menyani said.

During the period in question, the committee is also expected to scrutinise 2015/2016 fiscal year audit report, which shows that about K4.4 billion cannot be accounted for.

It is estimated that at the time of his death in April 2012, Mutharika held bank accounts in local and international banks with funds amounting to K34.9 billion and real estate worth K37.2 billion against K150 million that he declared to the Speaker of Parliament in 2004.

Authorities at ACB and Nao were yet to respond to our questionnaires on the matter.

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