8 Malawi lawyers face arrests over `tainted money’

Kitta: Looming arrest

Kitta: Looming arrest

Malawi Police on Monday applied to court to obtain warrant of arrests for about eight private practice lawyers over money laundering charges, Nyasa Times understands.

Lilongwe Magistrate Court sources said Police sought warrant of arrests “on money laundering charges” for the lawyers.

Police spokesperson Rhoda Manjolo could not disclose the names of the lawyers facing the arrests.

The matter was being handled by Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police Nelson Bophani, who is also chairing the Investigation Committee on the Cash-gate. Bophani could not immediately comment.

However, police sources said files of the case have already been submitted to Director of Public Prosecution Bruno Kalemba for prosecution consent.

Nyasa Times understands some of the lawyers earmarked for arrests include Wapona Kitta and Lusungu Gondwe.

Kitta and Gondwe were formerly working together with former Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara in Ralph and Arnold Associates.

Kasambara was arrestedon a charge of money laundering contrary to Section 35 of the Money Laundering Act.

He is accused that in August 2013 practicing as Ralph and Arnold Associates he  dealt with a cheque of MK55m million which a client used to buy a house in Area 47.

The cheque is said to have belonged to Pika Manondo, who wanted to buy a house and had contacted Ralph and Arnolds to assist him

However, Kasambara said at that time he was a minister of justice and “never run or provided as a lawyer.”

The legal firm was being run by Wapona Kitta.

Kasambara was earlier arrested in November on a charge of attempting to murder former Budget director Paul Mphwiyo but the charge was later changed to conspiracy to murder Mphwiyo. He is on bail on that charge.

The development comes after Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has obtained fresh court orders to freeze bank accounts of suspects in the Cashgate scandal, three months after the initial orders expired.

In October 2013, ACB obtained freezing orders for 37 bank accounts in various banks, but could not extend the sanctions after the expiry of the statutory three months.

ACB public relations officer Egritta Ndala told the local press that the 37 accounts are back on the hit list.

“The bureau renewed the restriction notices on the frozen accounts in relation to the ongoing Cashgate investigations. The bureau still has 37 accounts frozen,” she said.

Chapter 17 of the Corrupt Practices Act empowers ACB to seek court orders to freeze bank accounts belonging to people under investigations.

“A notice issued under subsection (1) shall have effect from the time of service and shall continue in force for a period of three months or until cancelled by the director, whichever is earlier, but may upon expiry be renewed for further periods of three months on application to a magistrate showing cause why the notice should be renewed,” reads the section.

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