The Office of the Director of Public Officers’ Declarations (DPOD) has warned that those that might have doctored assets in their declarations will have to face the long arm of the law as physical verifications are expected to be done soon.
DPOD Christopher Tukula unleashed the warning Friday amid speculations from some commentators that some public officers’ – whose assets have been made public – bloated their wealth.
“As an office we will have to verify to check whether or not the assets the officers declared reflects what is on the ground,” said Tukula. “If one, for example, said it cost them K10 million to build a house and yet it turns out that it was more or less than that that will be considered as fraudulent and is punishable by law.”
Tukula said that the offence attracts a minimum sentence of two years plus a fine of up to K500 000.
He repeatedly warned those that “underestimated or overestimated” when declaring their wealth.
Some of the officers whose wealth is now known include President Peter Mutharika, his predecessor Joyce Banda, vice president Saulos Chilima, leader of opposition Lazarus Chakwera and Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya.
Mutharika’s declaration of wealth fits him in the bracket of the country’s billionaires. Details indicate that he has a couple of bank accounts in and outside the country that hold close to K4 billion cash.
The President, who declared his wealth in July last year, has over US$8 million (about K3.4 billion) in two banks which he holds in the United State of America (USA) where he spent most of his working life.
But some commentators have since reacted to Mutharika’s declared wealth as not adding up.
Malawian writer and social analyst Stanley Onjezani Kenani wondered whether Mutharika was transparent enough.
“Professor Peter Mutharika,” Kenani wrote on his Facebook page, “retired from the law faculty effective July 1, 2011 according to the Washington University’s website. He was under pension scheme 403b. On average, a professor under the 403b scheme gets pension of $40,000 (K16 million) a year.”
He questioned: “So where, exactly, did Mutharika get the $25 million he used to buy one of the cars? And where did he get the hundreds of millions of Malawi Kwacha he has splashed on cars in the last five years? Is he honest? Is he telling our nation the truth?”
Late Pres Bingu wa Mutharika, who died suddenly of cardiac arrest in 2012, had in May 2004 declared his wealth to be around K150 million. However, in an assessment of his estate after his death valued his wealth at K61 billion, a figure his family disputes.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :