In a drive to deal with bureaucratic bottlenecks in international investigations, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has signed an agreement with the International Police (Interpol) to assist the bureau with cross-border cases.
Briefing journalists in Lilongwe yesterday, ACB Director Rizine Mzikamanda said the bureau is working closely with the United Kingdom’s Scotland Yard for assistance in cases that have an international dimension.
The press briefing was ahead of the launch of the bureau’s Corruption and Fraud Prevention Policy; Client Service Charter; Strategic Plan; and the redesigning of its websites.
According to Mzikamanda, one of the issues these instruments, to be launched on September 5, will be addressing is to ensure speedy processes in investigations and prosecution, including for cases that are international in nature.
In recent years, ACB has been failing to conclude investigations on some cases because of legal restrictions in countries where part of such suspected crimes were committed.
For example, ACB has delayed to finalise investigations on a case involving former Cabinet minister Patricia Kaliati because the bureau could not get information from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government.
“We have to admit that we have been having delays in some cases because of system failure, but now we will be able to increase our abilities. Some cases have also been delayed because of the international dimensions to the cases,” said Mzikamanda when asked if the launch of the new instruments will affect the Kaliati case.
He added: “Now we have signed an agreement with the international police [Interpol] and other international partners to assist us with investigations in such cases. And these documents will also help us to move more quickly and come to the conclusion of some of the cases as quickly as possible.”
On his part, ACB assistant director for operations Victor Banda explained that the agreement with Interpol means that the ACB is one of the investigation agencies internationally which are part and parcel of Interpol.
He said: “We are now registered in the Interpol and the Interpol will be handy to assist us if we want any information from other countries. With the British Police or Scotland Yard it means that the police in that country will also be able to assist us fish out any information to strengthen our cases.”
Banda said such links were vital because normally some cases fall off because the ACB lacks tangible evidence to convince foreign banks or other agencies to provide information while the current arrangement means that the Interpol and Scotland Yard will be assisting the ACB to get informal evidence before going formal.
The Kaliati probe, which concerns her role at the Ministry of Tourism in the awarding of the Nyika-Vwaza Ecotourism Reserve Concession to a UAE firm in 2007 started almost the same year but has been stalling with the bureau recently disclosing that it could not make headway because UAE government was not cooperating.