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Malawi govt set up unit to confiscate all ‘Cashgate assets’, recover money

Malawi government has launched  a special unit that will be responsible for confiscating wealth proven to have originated from proceeds of crime, primarily Cashgate, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs  has confirmed.

Solicitor General Janet Chikaya-Banda: Unit for forfeiture set up

An Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) will facilitate the State’s wish to recover all assets originating from proceeds of various financial crimes.

Solicitor General Janet Banda, who is Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs,  said the unit  established through the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) will work hand in hand with the Attorney General and the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) and other law enforcing agencies.

Banda said  Dr Jean Priminta has been designated as  coordinator while Dziko Malunda is the deputy coordinator.

“We have administratively set up the unit awaiting functional review,” Banda said.

She said the officers were currently working on draft terms of reference.

The European Union (EU) will also provide technical support to the Director of Public Prosecutions in helping to acquire skills to investigate and prosecute cases of money laundering as well as to undertake asset forfeiture at the conclusion of cases, according to EU head of politics, press and information office James Dolan.

Section 30 of the Penal Code gives powers to the court to order forfeiture of any property belonging to any person convicted of, among others, corruption, extortion by public officer receiving property to show favour and corrupt practices.

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) welcomed the development but cautioned that such a unit should be backed by a strong legal framework to ensure that the recovered assets and resources are not abused again.

Malawi Law Society (MLS) president  Khumbo Soko said while the idea was interesting, the society would await details of the proposed operations and legislation of the unit before making comment.

Cashgate is the biggest financial scandal in Malawi’s history. It has affected the country’s relations with donors and caused outrage among Malawians.

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