7 August 2018

Malawi: ACB Concludes Probe Into Malawi Police Food Rations Scandal - Arrests Looming

Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has said it has concluded investigation with the K2.7 billion Malawi Police Service (MPS) food rations scam in which Pioneer Investments made an abortive interest claim of K466 million and deposited K145 million into the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) bank account at Standard Bank whose sole signatory is President Peter Mutharika.

"We concluded our investigations last week," said ACB director general Reyneck Matemba.

Matemba refused to disclose the internal processes which has to be followed.

He said the bureau will decide it's "next course of action," saying "there is a law which parliament made for the bureau to use in whatever we do."

According ti Matemba, ACB managed to investigate the matter, "complex as it is," within a period of five months from the date the investigations commenced.

Nyasa Times understands that arrests and indictment will be affected on the suspected wrong doers in the scandal.

The anti-graft a body has been investigating a Malawi police food supply contract, worth around 2.8bn kwacha, that was awarded to a firm owned by businessman Zameer Karim, called Pioneer Investments.

According to ACB investigative report -now in public domain - the head of finance of Malawi's police, Innocent Bottomani, and Karim had "connived" to award Pioneer Investment a contract to provide 500,000 food ration packs.

Days after the contract was signed, Pioneer Investment allegedly asked for a change to the agreed price from 2.3bn kwacha to nearly 2.8bn - the report says the change was fraudulently approved by Bottomani.

When Karim was paid for supplying the food ration packs in 2016, he allegedly deposited 145m kwacha into a DPP bank account that is reportedly managed by President Mutharika.

Both Karim and Bottomani have denied involvement in the alleged fraud.

But DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi announced on Saturday that the party will refund the funds deposited into its bank account whose sole signatory is the President.

He said: "In the interest of transparency, the account was opened to save funds for purchasing the party's regional headquarters. All payments from this account were made to purchase the party headquarters and meet other party expenses. No money went to the President personally or any other official of the party."

Dausi, who is also Minister of Information and Communications Technology, said the DPP wants the ACB to proceed with its investigations into the transaction at Malawi Police Service (MPS) headquarters.

However, the Malawi Law Society (MLS) is asking ACB to act on the party's intent to refund the 'donation'.

According to MLS president Alfred Majamanda, DPP's move is an admission of wrongdoing; hence, the party wants to show remorse by giving back the money.

Majamanda said the graft-busting body should see the gesture as a window of opportunity to institute an investigation and get to the bottom of the matter.

Adding his voice, Mwiza Nkhata, associate professor of law at the University of Malawi's Chancellor College, said in comments reported in the press that the DPP's action does not put away the suspected offence committed since the payback maybe understood as admission of wrongdoing.

Matemba said the graft-busting body has taken note of what the Law Society has said.

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