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Bingu wa Mutharika wealth probe stalls

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The public inquiry on former president, the late Bingu wa Mutharika’s wealth that Public Accounts Committee (Pac) of Parliament intends to conduct may end up yielding nothing as the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) continues to make no progress on soliciting information outside the country.

Five months after reporting to Pac that there is no response from countries that the bureau sent letters requesting information on bank accounts and real estate, the status quo remains.

In an emailed response to our inquiry, ACB Senior Public Relations Officer, Egrita Ndala, said the conclusion of the investigation in the matter depends on receipt of the requested information, without which, the bureau can take no further steps.

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Ndala said the investigation largely involves other countries and depends on mutual legal assistance processes.

“In this case, Malawi as a requesting country, depends on the goodwill of the requested country to provide the information,” Ndala said.

ACB Director of Investigations, Dan Mponda, told Pac in April that when former ACB director general, Rezine Mzikamanda, authorised investigation on the matter in July 2013, the bureau obtained documentation from some companies hired to value the property, local banks and people who are said to have been beneficiaries.

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Mponda said ACB followed up on most of local payments that Bineth Trust and other entities that belonged to Mutharika made.

“But the problem was that the bulk of the alleged property and bank accounts were said to be in other countries such as US [United States], UK [United Kingdom] and Zimbabwe. We tried to get information through intelligence but it was not forthcoming,” Mponda said at the time.

He said in March 2014, ACB requested the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to help the bureau link up with the United States Department for Justice and also sent a blue notice to International Police (Interpol) to assist in getting information from the United States and other countries.

“It took sometime before getting a response from the United States Department for Justice. We received it in May 2015 and when it came, it was only to acknowledge receipt and asking us to provide more information.

“Actually, we were perplexed that we were asked questions whose answers we were also looking for and that being a foreign jurisdiction, it has not been easy for us to get information,” he told the committee.

According to Mponda, there is no response from Interpol.

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

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