By Rebecca Chimjeka
One Cabinet minister and some senior government officials in various departments and agencies have been named in the on-going court case involving businessman Zuneth Sattar in the United Kingdom (UK).
The UK is accusing Sattar of engaging in corruption in Malawi.
His case came before Deputy District Judge Stein of Uxbridge Magistrate Court yesterday, in which Sattar was asking the court to vary his bail conditions to allow him to travel outside the UK.
Multiple sources in the UK told The Daily Times that Deputy District Judge Stein ruled against Sattar’s prayer to vary the conditions.
The deputy district judge is quoted as saying: “He faces serious charges [and] I would not interfere with investigations. I therefore refuse to vary the police bail investigations.”
The Daily Times understands that Sattar approached the court to vary his bail conditions following his arrest on March 25 upon his return from Malawi.
The sources told The Daily Times that lawyer from the National Crime Agency (NCA) Chris Convey told the court that Sattar had left the UK on March 11 and arrived in Malawi on March 15 where he is suspected to have contacted some of the government officials to destroy evidence and defeat the aims of justice.
The source also said the lawyer further told the court that through recordings that the NCA has presented in court as part of the evidence, Sattar had interacted with at least nine government officials including one sitting Cabinet minister.
Others that Sattar is alleged to have been in touch with include one official from the Office of the Vice President, one official from State House, two officials from the Malawi Police Service, two officials from the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority, one official from Ministry of Justice and one from Malawi Revenue Authority.
The source further indicated that Sattar’s lawyer, Adams Jarvis, argued that his client— who was not present in court as he claimed to be sick—was a good man and would not interfere with the witnesses.
Malawian journalist Kondwani Munthali, who is currently doing his studies in the UK and attended the court session, confirmed to The Daily Times that Deputy District Judge Stein refused to grant Sattar his wish.
Munthali also confirmed that names of some top Malawi Government officials were mentioned in court, but refused to disclose the names.
“What I can say at the moment is that some names were mentioned in court. They are just a snapshot of the people implicated in the case,” Munthali said.
In an interview yesterday, Anti-Corruption Bureau Director-General Martha Chizuma said the bureau is keenly following what is happening in the UK and cooperating with NCA within the confines of the law.
Sattar was first arrested in the UK towards the end of last year and raids were reportedly conducted in that country and Malawi on several properties allegedly belonging to him and his associates.
It is reported that the arrest followed a three-year-long investigation that the NCA had been conducting into the businessperson’s suspected corrupt dealings with some Malawi Government officials.