Civil society organizations (CSOs) under the umbrella body – the National Anti-Corruption Alliance (NACA) have commended the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and other anti-graft bodies for achieving the non-conviction based forfeiture order under the new Financial Crimes Act of 2017.
The order relates to the seizure of assets amounting to MK1.7 billion from former president Peter Mutharika’s security aide, Norman Chisale.
The body’s chairperson Moses Mkandawire, in a statement says they are delighted to have been able to support this initiative through our Pay Back Our Money Campaign, which we launched last year aimed at recovering stolen public funds.
“NACA is also delighted that this is the second time that a non-conviction based forfeiture order has been secured. In September 2020, the High Court in Lilongwe also granted a similar order in a case involving MK120, 917, 295.60 found in a bank account operated by a company registered as Ideal Stationery, whose director was linked to one of Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) top managers, Charles Mchakulu. The judge of the High Court in Lilongwe ruled that, on the balance of probabilities, the money constituted the proceeds of crime and ordered its forfeiture under the Financial Crimes Act,” says Mkandawire.
He applauds the continued use of non-conviction based forfeiture by the anti-graft bodies to recover stolen assets.
According to Mkandawire, the non-conviction based forfeiture order is a huge step forward in Malawi’s fight against corruption, fraud and money laundering.
“Such orders are a key tool for recovering stolen assets considering that criminal cases take too long to be investigated and prosecuted in this country. Non-conviction based forfeiture cases are quicker to resolve than criminal conviction based cases, in part because of the lower burden of proof required. If prosecutors can prove that money or other assets such as property are more likely than not to be the proceeds of crime, it is up to the accused to explain how she/he obtained them,” he emphasizes.
Mkandawire further states that the continued use of the non-conviction based assets forfeiture route by anti-graft bodies is a sign of high level commitment to recover stolen assets.
He says this commitment needs to be sustained as it is a vital strategy for curbing corruption in all its forms.
“It is painful that money that is generated by the efforts of hardworking Malawians is not being used for the transformation and development of our country and economy. Once this money is recovered, it can be invested in the people through social programmes and infrastructure development. It could fund construction of schools, for example, so that all children have the opportunity to learn in decent classrooms.
“Asset forfeiture is also about sending a strong message that crime will not pay, and that there will be no impunity. Therefore, we urge anti-graft bodies to continue on this route. If we, as a country, are to win the fight against corruption, this is the route we should be using,” he says.
However, the alliance has lamented the failure by the government to appoint a new Director General of the graft-busting body.
“The Alliance urges government to ensure a credible and transparent process in the recruitment of a new Director for the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to ensure that we have someone in that position who will not be politically compromised in the fight against corruption. Reports making rounds in the media that some senior political figures are engaging in political posturing ahead of the interviews are unfortunate.
“The position of ACB Director is critical to the fight against corruption. As such, it needs to be filled by someone with strong credentials and a proven track record of being highly competent, independent, politically-neutral and dedicated to fighting corruption both inside and outside government. In this regard, the Alliance joins calls by some Malawians for the interviews that will be conducted to fill the position to be aired live on television to ensure credibility of the process,” emphasizes Mkandawire.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :