Lawyer dismisses Malawi cash gate property seizure

An England –based Malawian lawyer Amos Gondwe has challenged the move by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Bruno Kalemba on the seizure of property, including houses and vehicles belonging to people suspected to have taken part in the cashgate scandal.

Kalemba said the State has successfully obtained seizure warrants for property suspected to be connected to Cashgate but his office left the task of executing the warrants in the hands of the police.

However, Gondwe argued that in the absence of any court order following an accused conviction, the police or the DPP cannot sell any of the accused property.

“What the Police and DPP are doing now is simply to target properties that are suspected to be tainted with cashgate money or proceeds.

Justice Mzikamanda: ACB will not move in haste

“The Money Laundering, Proceeds of Serious Crime and Terrorist Financing Act permits the court to order any tainted property following conviction to be forfeited to the State,” explained the lawyer.

“Before conviction the State can apply to court to have suspected tainted properties to be attached or restricts its disposal pending conclusion of the criminal process. So basically the properties the police are talking about have only been attached and not forfeited or assigned to the State. Most of these attachments are now under legal challenge in court,” he added.

Kalemba said his office gave the court an application about the seizure of assets connected to Cashgate “and the court issued the warrants which were sent to police and other institutions.”

He however expressed optimism that government would recover about 80 percent of the funds plundered from the public purse by a syndicate of civil servants, ruling People’s Party (PP) politicians and businesspersons, some of whom have been arrested.

Chairperson of the police investigation committee on Cashgate Nelson Bophani said “there are many seizure warrants “.

Meanwhile, Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Judge Rezine Mzikamanda told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament on Monday that they would not move in haste to seize property belonging to companies or individuals for fear of paying claims for damages.

He said the graft-busting agency and started profiling assets and accounts belonging to individuals and companies involved in the looting at Capital Hill.

But Mzikamanda shielded the names of the about 81 companies, saying disclosing their names would result in lawsuits.

He also expressed fears that pouncing on n property belonging to businessperson Oswald Lutepo, especially seizure of 22 vehicles allegedly donated to the ruling PP before investigations are concluded would result in loss of government money through lawsuits.

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