13 August 2018

Malawi: ACB Clears Mutharika On K145m - President Did No Personally Benefit From Malawi Police Food Rations Scandal

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has cleared President Peter Mutharika of any wrong doing in the K145 million donations suspected to have been proceeds of crime in much-publicised Malawi Police Service (MPS) food rations scam.

The K145 million payout to Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was deposited by Pioneer Investment Limited in a bank account for which President Mutharika is a sole signatory.

The grafy-busting body's investigation report showed that PI Limited made an abortive interest claim of K466 million from Police and deposited the controversial K145 million into the DPP bank account at Standard Bank.

But ACB director Reyneck Matemba said the ultimate beneficiary of the contentious K145 million donation was DPP and not Mutharika.

Matemba said bank documents and other evidence that they have gathered, some of which President Mutharika provided " clearly show that the ultimate beneficiary of the K145 million was the Democratic Progressive Party and not the State President."

PI Limited deposited the funds in the DPP account immediately after getting a K2.7 billion payment for police food rations contract.

Nyasa Times understands that ACB report has recommended that Innocent Bottoman, a director of finance in the Malawi Police Service and businessman Zameer Karim, owner of Pioneer Investments, be prosecuted for defrauding the Malawi government of K466,000,000.

The report also recommends that Bottoman and Karim be prosecuted for acquiring proceeds of crime totalling K1.4 billion.

The two are also to be charged for forging and uttering false documents, contrary to section 356 as read with section 360 of the penal code.

But according to the investigation report, Mutharika cannot be prosecuted due to his immunity as a sitting head of state.

In June, the Vice-President Saulos Chilima said there was need to amend the constitutional provision that shields a sitting President from criminal prosecution, saying it gives the presidency licence to commit corruption crimes.

But constitutional law experts argued that immunity was only temporary during tenure of office to protect the President from false charges and ensure dedication to discharge of duties.

Meanwhile, the civil society organisations have said they will still press for due process of the law on the matter.

Spokesman for Human Rights Defenders (HRD), Gift Trapence, said "Malawians will no longer trust the ACB to do its work independently."

He said ACB is politically manipulated.

But Mutharika said he would never interfere with the graft-busting body.

"I do not interfere in the ACB. Never. Interfere for what?" said Muthatika in Talk to the President programme on MBC.

Mutharika said he was a victim of a political smear campaign ahead of nex year's elections.

"I know of a few individuals who were sent by other parties to tarnish my name and the DPP," he said.

"All over the world people receive donations and it is normal for people to receive donations," stressed Mutharika.

DPP announced it will refund the funds.

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