Chaponda faces similar charges to Cashgate convict Sithole:  Malawi fired minister on assets tour with ACB

Embattled former Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development minister George Chaponda is yet to be charged of any offence, but law experts say he faces similar charges of a former junior civil servant who was sentenced to nine years in jail with hard labour for his part in the “cashgate” corruption scandal.

Chaponda: In showy tour with ACB

“The case of Honourable Chaponda is similar to that of Victor Sithole who was found with 122 million Malawi kwacha and $22, 000,” observed a local lawyer who is a Senior Counsel.

Sithole, who was government’s Accounts assistant, the second official to be found guilty over Cashgate was found guilty of stealing more than $66,000 in cash.

His arrest in August 2013 after cash was found in his car boot kick-started what became known as the “cashgate” affair – the worst financial scandal in the country’s history.

It became public knowledge a month later following the shooting of the finance ministry’s then budget director Paul Mphwiyo.

The Senior Counsel, who opted for anonymity due to his close ties with government, said Chaponda can face similar charges of Sithole after ACB investigators confiscated K124 million, $57 500, 2 720 Indian rupee, 518 Ethiopian birr, 610 Pula, 1 200 meticais, 1 250 Kenya shillings, 80 Hong Kong dollars, 1 010 Japanese yen, 22 370 South African rands, 55 euros, 29 Zambian kwacha and 100 Namibian dollar.

Sithole was charged with three offences: Money laundering, illegal possession of foreign currency and being found with property reasonably suspected of being stolen and earned himself nine years imprisonment with hard labour.

“On the face of it one wonders what business Chaponda was carrying on to allow him keep that kind of money.

“It is no defence to say that one was keeping dollars in anticipations of a foreign trip. The only defence is that the minister of finance authorised such a transaction. In view of Chaponda’s futile attempt to drag Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe into his mess, it’s very unlikely that the Treasury Czar would want to rescue Chaponda,” commented the law expert.

He added: “Any strategic prosecutor should simply charge Chaponda with illegal possession of forex, within a week secure conviction and have Chaponda serve custodial sentence, thereafter follow up with those other charges.”

Meanwhile, Chaponda took Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) investigators on a tour of his property in Area 10 in Lilongwe where he showed off some of his townhouses and flats in the high-end suburb.

The dismissed Minister of Agriculture told ACB that he wanted to show them how wealthy he is and justify why he is cash-rich after they confiscated at least K166 million stashed in suitcases at his house.

Chaponda also submitted his assets declaration form to ACB which indicates he hold many bank accounts in foreign countries where he worked for United Nations (UN).

A lists of assets Chaponda declared as OF February 1, 2017 seen by Nyasa Times shows that he has 20 real estate properties in Lilongwe, Blantyre, France, Luchenza, Mangochi, Thyolo and Chiradzulu.

According to Chaponda declaration, the source of funds for the property, valued at K853 million, included bank loans and his earnings from the UN, United Kingdom, South Africa, France and his children abroad and Chaponda investments.

ACB deputy director Reyneck Matemba confirmed inspection of some assets of Chaponda.

But Senior Counsel argue that Chaponda must show some tax return.

“If he can’t then Malawi Revenue Authority should come in and prefer charges of tax evasion,” said the lawyer

Meanwhile, a constitutional law expert Edge Kanyongolo, who is lecturer at University of Malawi’s Chancellor College,  has said  Chaponda can still be arrested despite constitutional immunity guarantee he enjoys as Member of Parliament.

Parliament is sitting in Lilongwe for the mid-term budget review.

“The immunity of an MP exists when they are in their way to parliament, within the premises of parliament and when they are on their way from parliament. However, there is no general rule which stops the arrest of an MP when parliament is sitting,” explained Kanyongolo.

However, he clarified that an arrest also depends on the “discretion” of the law enforcement agency.

Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu has since said has the K166 million found stashed in Chaponda’s residence in Lilongwe will form part of the evidence the Anti-Corruption Bureau investigations are gathering.

Chaponda is being investigated by ACB following his suspicious dealings on the procurement of maize from Zambia.

Tembenu said Mutharika fired him from the cabinet to pave way for proper and efficient investigations.

He  said the ACB is also investigating Transglobe officials and Agriculture ministry principal secretary Erica Maganga, among others.

Opposition parliamentarians said the sacking of Chaponda from cabinet was too little too late, saying he could have been fired long ago.

Presidential spokesman Mgeme Kalilani said President Mutharika “thought it wise to relieve Dr Chaponda of his responsibilities to enable him to attend to the allegations being levelled against him.”

According to Kalilani, President Mutharika wants ACB to work freely for full implementation of the recommendations by the inquiries commissioned by Parliament and the Head of State which they all dammed Chaponda.

Meanwhile, ACB has said in a statement made available to Nyasa Times that investigations of such magnitude require enough time to ensure that the process is conducted thoroughly and in conformity to legal requirements.

 

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chief Activist
Guest

oPEN DIFIANCE IS WAT COST STALLIN DEATH AND STUPDITY IN HELL…….DDI U KNOW?

vavlov
Guest

How much does Chaponda earn from his over emphasized UN retirement package? He seems to be using it as way to hide his loot. I dont believe he earns as much as he claims. ACB can easily prove this so that he stops fooling Malawians. He is a thief, period!!!!!

Newton
Guest

Politics is a bad animal

nyapapi
Guest

zambiri ndilibe bt apite kundende dziko likuvuta coz of anthu amenewa

chongolopiyo
Guest

vuto lake milandu mupanga sue mwaphuma. Ndizija mtumbuka wanu uja mmalo molemba kuti chaponda amupange suspend analemba peter mutharika. Atumbuka ndi agalu.

santana
Guest
Now I expect Kamlepo and the Mayayas to vehemently refute that the man posses all this property. With all this property declaration what percentage is the money he was keeping in the house if not peanuts!!!! He can even employ Billy Mayaya and 7 men of Kamlepo’s status. Have you heard the other reason why the man is relieved of his ministerial duties? To spend full time studying and strategizing on the mud he is being slung at. With the revelation of the property of this magnitude I am sure the Mayayas will have an extra gear on Chaponda due… Read more »
GRACE CHIRWA WHITE
Guest
National Bus Company Staff Stays 3 Months without Pay National bus employees stays three months without pay.Months involved are December 2015,January and February 2017.The Company’s managing director Mr Leston Mulli always deliberately delays salaries for no apparent reason.Workers are wondering why this is possible when government still has shares in the company.Workers are really suffering looking at the current economic difficulties that are in the country.Employees are just hoping that government will intervene.Since 2012 they have never got any increment and their salaries are very pathetic, despite that workers are also ill-treated and workers are wondering if any of labour… Read more »
Isle of Man
Guest
Am now becoming ashamed of my own country. Surely confiscating such petty foreign currency which obviously should be some changes from one’s foreign trips??? Is that money enough to keep the whole country talking about this old man? You are making him laugh more and more at you. Malawians full of jealousy. Can’t you obviously see how rich that man is both academically and financially? Maybe you don’t know that he acquired properties in the diaspora long time ago during Dr. Banda’s time. Wake Up Malawians. Give back the monies to the owner. You make us feel ashamed in the… Read more »
Criminal
Guest

There are laws governing issues of money my friend. U r busy justfying other people’s money when u don’t have money yourself. Mind u, Chaponda’s money is not your money. Get a life and move on, otherwise u may spend the rest of your life praising people for the money they have when u have nothing to show yourself

Asantheli
Guest

Inu mulibe ndalama ngati zimenezi. Aaa! Ndinu osaukadi. Mumagokhalira kugona ndi kugonelana basi

Maizegate
Guest

Once a thief always a thief. Even in diaspora he must have been stealing to get that property. Why would a 78 year old ‘rich man’ plan to steal poor Malawians’ maize in Zambia?

Aaron
Guest

All the matters we should leave in the hands who know law better and are those supposed to direct us.
I am saying this because of the field which some of us we possed
.

Kalekeni Kadzionere
Guest
Ndizondandaulitsa mtundu wathu wa Malawi kudabwa kuti munthu apezeka bwanji ndi ndalama zomwe zikutchulidwapo, K122,000,000. Instead of investigating the case of Mr Chaponda and now you are referring Mr Chaponda’s case to the money you have found in the house, shame on you. How long Mr Chaponda has been working in the government? I am not from Southern region and am not defending him, am talking about the way you have handled the case. I would love to hear publishing how the maize got lost because the government knows all the trucks fetching maize from Zambia. Ukati uwerengeko news paper,… Read more »
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