The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has pleaded for patience in the ongoing maize procurement corruption investigations while defending itself for failing to arrest fired Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, George Chaponda despite the seizure of cash in both local and foreign currencies at his house on Tuesday.
The ACB during a search found and seized 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 within Chaponda’s house in Lilongwe.
It is a convictable offence to be found with such unexplained cash, and commentators have been calling for ACB to act swiftly and arrest Chaponda on money laundering charges amid investigations on corruption allegations.
However, the anti-graft body has stood its grounds while justifying its dilly-dallying to arrest the once deemed powerful minister and close ally of President Peter Mutharika.
In a statement made available to Nyasa Times on Wednesday and signed by ACB’s Senior Public Relations Officer, Egrita Ndala,the Bureau pleaded for patience.
“The Bureau would like to appeal to members of the public to hold their patience as the investigation is continuing. The investigations of such magnitude require enough time to ensure that the process is conducted thoroughly and is done in conformity to legal requirements,” reads the statement in part.
And in an interview with Nyasa Times later on, Ndala failed to justify why the Bureau was not arresting Chaponda despite having enough grounds and evidence of money laundering related charges.
“It’s a process and whatever happened yesterday (Tuesday) is part of that process. We can’t just make the arrest. We have to follow the law,” said Ndala.
Ndala said Chaponda’s arrest would depend on the outcome of the Bureau’s investigations, saying “We need to analyze every information and material obtained during the investigations, and then the decision will be made.”
Chaponda is liable for prosecution on related money laundering contrary to the Penal Code and the Money Laundering, Proceeds of Serious Crime and Terrorist Financing Act as well as corruption charges contrary to Section of the Corrupt Practices Act.
UK based Malawian social commentator and governance activist Ahmed Dassu said law enforcement agencies must arrest Chaponda following the cash that was found in his house.
“Now the law enforcement agencies must proceed to arrest Chaponda on money laundering evidenced by the cash found in his house. Other charges can follow after the investigations are completed, otherwise people in Malawi will be right to assume the dismissal of Chaponda is a cover up until things cool down and that President Mutharika and Chaponda are in the scam together,” Dassu told Nyasa Times.
Mutharika on Wednesday conceded and took heed of the public outcry and relieved Chaponda of his duties as minister pending the outcome of ACB’s investigations.
On Tuesday the anti-graft body seized cash that was found stashed in suitcases in the Chaponda’s official house in Lilongwe.
The ACB has been investigating the scandal since December, 2016 following a complaint alleging that procurement procedures were not followed in the procurement of maize from Zambia by Admarc.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :