Investigate Bingu’s billions, urges Malawi activist: Accounts frozen as daughters started money transfers

Human rights activist Justin Dzonzi of Justice Link, in an exclusive interview with Nyasa Times, has called on the authorities to investigate on how former President late Bingu wa Mutharika managed to amass worth totaling to K61 bilion in seven years.

Dzonzi’s calls add on views expressed by many people on comments posted on Nyasa Times and   social media as well as in various phone-in programs on several local radio stations.

Most Malawians who, while describing  the revelations as depressing, demanded investigations to establish how such amount of money and properties were acquired.

Mutharika declared to have had K154 million worth of assets when he got into power in 2004 only to be K61 billion richer seven years later

Duwa and Tapiwa Mutharika: Started moving money away
Duwa and Tapiwa Mutharika: Started moving money away

And in an interview with Nyasa Times, Dzonzi said the issue needs to be properly investigated considering that how hefty the figures are.

“We need to scrutinize and review our laws to ensure those we put in office are transparent and accountable. The amount involved here is huge compared to salaries and benefits presidents are accorded,” Dzonzi said.

Dzonzi, who is also a lawyer by profession, said currently, the country’s laws have loopholes that need to be sealed if elected leaders are to refrain from taking advantage of ordinary citizens.

“If we are not careful in enough, those in power will end up enriching themselves at the expense of poor people. We need to have laws that will ensure our leaders are held accountable and transparent in their businesses and any worth acquired,” he added.

Meanwhile, published reports said the High Court has ordered that all but one accounts belonging to Mutharika be frozen pending conclusion of the issue of paying estate duty.

According to evidence tendered in court it transpired that when Mutharika’s daughters Tapiwa Mutharika and Duwa Mutharika-Mubaira were made administrators of Bingu’s Estate on May 31, 2013, the first move they made was to transfer funds into other accounts.

One letter dated May, 31 2013 bearing the names of Tapiwa and Duwa was written to First Merchant Bank ordering that the accounts University of Southern Malawi, account number 026909010 which had K130, 497, 609 and Bingu Silver Grey Foundation, account number 026012009 which had K174, 219, 506.10 be closed and the money be transferred to Duwa Mutharika Mubaira’s UKs Standard Bank account number 10646647.

Another letter to FMB ordered the closure and transfer of funds from the following accounts: Dr Bingu wa Mutharika’s account number 016031604 which at the time of his death had a balance of K39, 765,072.35, Ndata Farm, account number 0360228001 which had K10,650,785.92, Bingu Silvergrey 0262417775 which had K17,560,923.85. The letter stated that the money should be transferred to Bineth Trust Fund, Standard Bank Capital City branch account number 0140003548200.

The letter also ordered the closure and transfer of funds to Bineth Trust Fund Standard Bank Capital City branch account number 0140003548200 from Bineth Enterprises, account number 0360069010 which had a bank balance of K1,327,652.22, Bineth Education Fund account number 0260783003 had K75,463,696.04 as balance and University of Southern Malawi’s account number 0260908007 which had k77,600,607.11.

This development prompted lawyer Lusungu Gondwe, who is acting on behalf of government to collect duty from Mutharika estates, to seek an injunction stopping anyone from making any bank transaction on Mutharika’s estate.

“In the interim an order of attachment do issue by way of an injunction and consequently an injunction be and is hereby granted restraining the Defendants either by themselves or their agents or their servants or their cronies or by whosoever and howsoever otherwise from dealing and/or which transacting or making transactions on all bank accounts comprising and/or part of the estate of Pro. Bingu wa Mutharika except the bank account for Ndata Farm domiciled at First Merchant Bank, account Number 0360228001.

“If you are the above said Defendants and all or any bank (s) holding funds and/or maintaining accounts for and/or comprising funds which are part of the estate of Pro. Bingu wa Mutharika disobey this order you may be found guilty of contempt of court and mat be sent to prison or fined or your assets may be seized,” reads the court order.

However, only one account Ndata Farm account number 0360228001 which is at FMB and has K10,650,785.92 has been exempted.

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