High Court judge Kenyatta Nyirenda has extended a freeze on bank account of former president Peter Mutharika’s personal bodyguard Norman Chisale in connection with an investigation into the importation of cement worth K5 billion using Mutharika’s privileges as President.
The extension of the freezing directive follows an appeal by Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) – a national agency responsible for preventing and combating financial crimes – that the court should place restriction on the banks not to deal or transact in any way in relation to Chisale’s accounts.
Justice Nyirenda made the ruling on Friday, saying he was satisfied with the reason for the extension up to four months.
FIA made the appeal to court after it blocked Chisale from withdrawing K30 million through a cheque his wife wanted to cash at First Capital Bank.
The authority also sought the freezing order at National Bank plc.
FIA asserted that the case against Chisale is still ongoing and “new information is still being unearthed” in the investigations process.
“We are of the strongest opinion that the funds in the frozen accounts of the defendants will form part of the realizable property subject to confiscation under the Financial Crimes Act,” FIA argued.
But Chisale prayed to unfreeze his bank account, saying he has been facing “financial hardships” as he cannot sustain himself, support his family and pay his employees as a direct consequence of the account being frozen.
Chisale argued that FIA did not indicate which funds in his accounts are under suspicion or investigations considering that the National Bank account has all along been the account where all his salaries and allowances have been deposited all the time.
He said the frozen account mentioned is the business account of Zimatha Lodge of which I am a proprietor and all proceeds from the business are deposited.
Chisale asked to be allowed to make “reasonable withdrawals” from the bank account to sustain his life.
But making his determination, Judge Nyirenda said he considered Chisale’s submission but found them “to lack merit”.
He pointed out that FIA established “ a good case for it to be allowed more time to make necessary inquiries concerning the matter.”
Nyirenda also refused Chisale request that the court should make provisions that the reasonable expenses of him be met from the frozen accounts.
“All in all, the application by the Claimant (FIA) to extend the validity of the freezing directive is granted and the prayer by the Defendant (Chisale) that certain of his expenses be met from the frozen accounts if refused,” ruled judge Nyirenda in his Chambers in January 6 2021 in Lilongwe.
Chisale, alongside then State Residences chief of staff Peter Mukhito, Malawi Revenue Authority deputy commissioner general Roza Mbilizi and former president Mutharika had their bank accounts frozen in connection with an investigation into the importation of cement scandal.
However, Mbilizi was allowed to access K2 million from her account for medical treatment, but the bureau refused the Mutharikas permission to access their accounts on advice of investigators.
The law allows the bureau to freeze assets for preservation from disposal of suspected proceeds of crime, pending conclusion of investigations under the Corrupt Practices Act and the Financial Crimes Act.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :