‘Big fishes’ face arrests in cashgate, says Malawi Justice Minister

Malawi’s Justice Minister Fahad Assani has hinted that more arrest are looming and will involve high profile personalities   involved in the plundering of public coffers at Capital Hill popularly referred to as cash-gate.

Government say roughly K9bn has gone missing since President Joyce Banda became president ion April 2012. They add that probably another K90bn went missing over the eight years of the presidency of the late Bingu wa Mutharika.

In total, government said that about 30 per cent of the country’s budget could have been looted over a decade – almost as much as donors have provided Malawi over the same period.

Assani : More arrests coming including big fishes
Assani : More arrests coming including big fishes

Assani  warned that there will be more arrest, saying “we’ll not spare anyone as far as cash-gate is concerned. We’ll arrest everyone including the big fish in due course.”

He added: “We’re still gathering evidence and, even before elections we should already have something tangible on the table for Malawians.”

The esteemed lawyer, who replaced Ralph Kasambara – alleged to have a hand in the shooting of former budget director Paul Mphwiyo – as justice minister, said that they have no less than 68 cases to try.

Of these, he said, 14 will commence trial this week.

“We’re not yet done with the arrests. We’ll arrest some more,” he told Zodiak radio in its programme Tiuzeni Zoona programme which Nyasa Times monitored on Sunday.

He expressed satisfaction with the financial support government and other development partners have committed to investigating the scandal.

Assani informed that the  K65 million (US$155 502) released by treasury has been shared by six institutions including Judiciary, Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Malawi Police Service (MPS) and office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP)

“The treasury has released money to speed up the investigation of the cases. For example, K12m each has been allocated to the Police, Ministry of Justice and Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).

“We’re also expected to receive 8.5 million Euros [about K5 billion] from Germany in due course for the same. I’m certain we’ll not face any financial hurdles as government has expressed full commitment,” said Assani.

The number of cashgate cases committed to the High Court through the DPP remains at 35, 18 more cases are pending committal to High Court through the ACB.

Confiscating cash-gate property

The Minister of Justice, said as government they were tied by the law to confiscate property that was bought using cash-gate money.

“Some of the suspects bought the property in the name of their spouses, friends or children and we’ve evidence for that. But we can’t just confiscate the property because the law doesn’t allow.

“What I can tell the nation is that we’ve evidence and we’ll pin all of them down. We’ll actually use the property as evidence against them,” he explained.

He revealed that some of the cash-gate suspects also donated money towards their prayers houses, saying the State will work tooth and nail to recover all of it using right procedures.

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