Former President Bingu wa Mutharika’s family can now have access to the deceased estate estimated at K61 billion, in both property and cash, after the High Court Judge Dustan Mwaungulu ruled on Thursday to unlock the late Mutharika’s bank accounts which government froze over unpaid K5 billion estate duty.
Justice Mwaungulu recently also ruled in favour of the Mutharika family in the case against Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) which had wanted to collect duty on 41 vehicles Mutharika imported on free duty as part of his presidential benefits.
In his determination on Thursday, Justice Mwaungulu ordered to free the bank accounts after the Estate Commissioner and the Mutharika family, through their lawyers, entered into a consent order that includes a commitment by the Mutharikas to pay the estate duty.
According to the order that matters relating to the estate duty are being resolved out of court and removed an injunction which the Estate Commissioners obtained from the High Court in Zomba on June 21, freezing all but one of Mutharika bank accounts.
The order was signed by lawyers Lusungu Gondwe for the Estate Commissioners and Kalekeni Kaphale for the Mutharika family.
It mandates the interim administrators of the late Mutharika estate, Kaphale and lawyer James Tomoka, for Mutharika’s widow Callista, to apply for letters of administration of the estate at the High Court within 30 days from Thursdayand that they Mutharika family will be committed to pay all proper and lawful outgoings, including all debts and liabilities requiring discharge on behalf of the estate.
Kaphale and Tomoko are also required to to appoint professional valuers to determine the values for estate duty while maintaining government-hired valuer Yeremia Chihana of YMW Property Investment Limited.
Reads the consent order: “That YMW Property Investment Limited shall be the appointed professional valuer of the Estate Duty Commissioners and payment for the services of YMW Property Investment Ltd shall be the responsibility of the Estate Duty Commissioners in accordance with section 22(2) of the Estate Duty Act.
“In the event that the parties hereto cannot agree on a valuation, the parties shall appoint the President of the Malawi Law Society to nominate a valuer from a list submitted by the parties whose valuation shall be final. The parties hereto shall be responsible in equal terms for the cost of services of such valuer.”
The court ordered that all disputes relating to the composition of the estate would be referred to the High Court.
The Mutharikas, through their lawyers, have been disputing the K5 billion estate duty and the K61 billion estate estimation by Chihana.
Mutharika died of cardiac arrest while in office on April 5 2012.