ACB says Chaponda cash stashed in suitcase under forensic investigation

George Thapatula Chaponda—the erstwhile Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development and Leader of the House— is not off the hook as the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has confirmed it is making forensic investigation of suitcases stashed with cash – US$58,000 and MK124 million seized at his house during the raid in February this year.

Geroge Chaponda: Investigations under way

ACB had raised Chaponda’s residence following a recommendation by the commission of inquiry into Malawi’s maize imports from Zambia that he should be investigated.

The graft-busting body said Chaponda might need to explain the presence of cash in his house.

According to ACB public relations officer Egrita Ndala, the bureau is conducting “a forensic analysis” on what they seized from Chaponda.

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.

“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.

There has been mixed views from legal experts on Chaponda’s suitcases stashed with cash as some Malawians on social media condemned the former minister for running what they call “Bank Nkhonde”.

Malawian legal commentator based at South Africa’s University of Cape Town, Professor Danwood Chirwa  argued:“This particular individual  [Chaponda] has committed or is alleged to have committed a litany of legal infringements including flouting procurement law, gross negligence in the discharge of his public duties, perjury, arson, corruption and money laundering.

“He’s cost the state millions of money, including entering into contracts that are more costly than is necessary and hence spending more on a loan secured at taxpayers’ expense.

“In addition, state institutions have been used to cover up and defend his criminal actions. A presidential commission and parliamentary inquiry both spent huge sums of public money on something that should have been investigated by institutions created specially for this purpose,” stated Chirwa.

But a Blantyre-based money laundering law expert Jai Banda argues that currently there is no law that stipulates the maximum amount of money a person can keep on him.

Banda also said there is no crime in keeping foreign currency provided the one who has it obtained it from a legal dealer.

He, however, said authorities can use the Corrupt Practices Act if a person who is

Chaponda has refused to make any comment during the period of investigations.

He however took 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 the 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.

Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu  said the millions of cash  found stashed in Chaponda’s residence in Lilongwe will form part of the evidence the ACB investigations are gathering.

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

Tembenu said President Peter Mutharika fired Chaponda 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.

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17 thoughts on “ACB says Chaponda cash stashed in suitcase under forensic investigation”

  1. MANYI says:

    Forensic forensic yachani
    Apa nkhani yothaithai
    Munthuyu ngwakuba
    Heavy !!

    Umbono wonse ulipo

    MUKANGOMUTAYA NDI KATENGA INJUNCTION
    KU COURT

    TIVINITSANA BASI NAYENSO AKALOWE BASI !!

  2. Jelbin mk says:

    If there is no law that prevents individuals from keeping hefty amount of cash then why do we have the financial inteligency in place? Then we are not a serious nation how can we deal with money laundaring terrorism?

  3. CHIMVQ says:

    MMwanawe ! BULLDOZER
    MDIMA UKUKUTSATA
    VINDALAMA VIJA UKADYERA
    KUMIDIMA GAHENA YA MOTOO KU NDENDE
    NGATI CHITSIRU /CHIDZETE

    KOMA UTSADANDAURE POTI WANZAKO WOPHUNZIRANSO BWINO
    WALI KOMWEKO VIZUNGU VANU VA MA DIKISHONALE VIJA MUKAVIPHWASAMULA KOMWEKO NDI NSIKIZI KOMANSOO NSABWE

  4. zovuta says:

    Selective JUSTICE…………………khalidwe loipa la boma la DPP

  5. kings says:

    This is just the genesis of the downfall once heavyweights of the cashgaters, you will face the consequnces for sure.

  6. Mudzamva liti says:

    ACB mukuchedwelanji? Ena aja simumachedwa chonchtu! Amangidwe uyu; Kuchigama ngati pa nsana pa chule.

  7. Chibalo says:

    Chaponda showing of some of his houses in Area 10? He has different bank accounts abroad? The source of income being his emoluments whilst working in the UN and through his children and bank loans? He must be telling that to a child and Not Malawians.

    We knew Chaponda as generally a struggling man before despite his earnings from UN.We have known Chaponda as a bootlicker showing all the evidence of a poor man.It is only after he went deep into politics and in the inner circles of Bingu/Peter that we started noticing some stubborness and opulence.ACB the houses you saw are a very clear evidence of how corrupt this Chaponda became.
    He never had such houses before joining our porous Political arena.Just investigate, you will see that all those houses have been built after he joined Politics.

    Iam just wondering about Malawi and why we should be failing to arrest him even after his houses was raided in February?

    1. Kongolo says:

      You really don’t know him.

  8. cymru says:

    I want to disagree with the anonymous Senior Counsel who says that Dr. Chaponda could face similar charges as convicted Victor Sithole. I should clarify that I’m not backing or sympathizing with anybody but I just feel that the two cases are different in many areas. First Victor Sithole was a mere Accounts Assistant or Clerical Officer (CO) earning very little money as government employee at that grade. Dr. Chaponda we hear had worked outside the country and prior to being appointed Minister of Agriculture was Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation which entailed a lot traveling and possibility of saving foreign currencies. Victor Sithole’s case bordered on theft by a public servant while Dr. Chaponda is suspected of corruption unless proven otherwise by the Anti-Corruption Bureau who are conducting a forensic examination on the money found in Dr. Chaponda’s house. We know that after Sithole’s arrest as rightly indicated by the writer of this story, theft of government money was exposed and many people were found with unexplained amount of money. I think the learned Senior Counsel might be misleading us unless he or she has other facts that are not known to many.

  9. cymru says:

    I don’t agree with the anonymous Senior Counsel that Hon. Dr. Chaponda could face similar charges as the convicted Accounts Assistant Victor Sithole. Of course I’m not saying that Dr. Chaponda is innocent that is not my responsibility but courts can determine that. The fact is that Victor Sithole was just a mere clerical officer (Co) earning very little at his grade in government while Dr. Chaponda was Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and is known to have worked for sometimes outside Malawi and in politics, it is therefore possible that he saved some foreign currencies during his extensive travels as foreign minister. It is therefore, important for fair justice the Anti-Corruption Bureau to investigate the issue thoroughly. The issue of Victor Sithole was directly linked to theft of government money and many clerical staff and other government officials were also involved on the same. Though I have never studied law, I think that Dr. Chaponda’s case is more on suspicion of corruption and not necessarily theft of public money as was the case of Victor Sithole unless proven so by the ACB.

  10. Meke says:

    Jai is lying. Keeping such a huge sum of money in the house amounts to money-laundering. The money is also from corrupt activities. He was hiding it. Why not open FCDA to deposit foreign currency.

  11. MAUNITS says:

    Thieves out 2019. Malawi was warm heart of Africa but these thieves put us at an awkward situation. Foolish dpp gvt and go to hell

  12. mwekha says:

    ACB muchita check a Dokotola Moses ku Central medical stores, ama mpereka ma contract ku malawi pharmacies za spirit, mitengo zakwera kwambiri, ndi ma spirit wo chuluka , maspiriti aza nchita expire spiritgate.

  13. I don’t know what’s wrong with Mr. Ibu He is indecisive, shields corrupt officials of his gafament. He’s not fit to be president of this country.

  14. Wina says:

    And the Salima Lilongwe Water Project deal was hastily signed by Chaponda again. Please investigate this deal as well i doubt Chaponda’s integrity nothing good can come from this man

  15. solomon says:

    prison z waiting bwana.kasambala cant wait*aziphuzinsi a foarm 4 akusowa kumeneko.

    1. Mphwemule says:

      Nanga Pitala mumufufuza liti ndi amnzake a Midnight 6, osaiwala mayi woyerekedwa uja Kaliati?

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