Details of the deferred Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) investigation of former president Peter Mutharika show that the July 27 interview will be broader than the cement importation saga.
Sources close to the probe confided in The Nation that Mutharika’s latest round of questioning involves importation of property valued in billions of kwacha during his tenure as President from May 2014 to June 2020 using his duty-free status and taxpayer identification number documentation is focussing on several issues, but all surrounding usage of TPIN.
He also confirmed that the issues the ACB is raising are different from those raised earlier by the Malawi Police Service Fraud and Fiscal Crimes Department, which interviewed the former president last October in relation to the cement import matter.
Tembenu said: “I am not ready to disclose the details at this point. They have asked a number of issues, but all hinge on the use of the TPIN.
“Let me respect the approach taken by the bureau and not comment any further. We will comment further at some point.”
In a previous statement, ACB confirmed that the investigation surrounded the use of the TPIN.
Our sources said Mutharika is currently regarded as “a person of interest” and not necessarily a suspect. The sources added that there are several former State Residences officials who are also being treated as “persons of interest” to the bureau.
Said one of the sources: “It means that the former president is being investigated, but the decision on whether he should be charged with a crime or if he is a potential witness has not yet been reached.”
Mutharika , who celebrated his 81st birthday on July 17 this year, remains an influential political figure as president of Democratic Progressive Party.
ACB officials — i n ensuring that they treat the ex-president with due courtesy—consulted the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) on the protocols to be followed in seeking Mutharika’s audience, according to our source at the bureau.
The ACB was expected to start questioning Mutharika yesterday at his beachside residence in Mangochi, but the former president’s lawyers requested the bureau to give them 21 days to study the documents. However, the bureau has granted Mutharika just 10 days to review the paper work; hence, the session will start next Tuesday.
In a communication we have seen, ACB director general Martha Chizuma indicated that if Mutharika and his team do not cooperate, the bureau will summon the former president to its offices as it often does with all persons of interest and withdraw the courtesy of meeting him at his home.
Reads the letter in part: “We make reference to above issue, the response to your request that you should be given more days to allow your client study the documentation that we provided. We would like to respond as follows: our conversation on the
“There is no legal basis on the part of the bureau to provide notice for an
interview of this nature where your client is currently not an accused person. We did this based on the guidance we received from the OPC regarding such interaction with former presidents.
“There is no legal obligation to disclose documentation, but because of the nature of the case, we thought it wise to do so in the view that your client should be able to provide us with as much information as possible.
“Accordingly, we believe that your request for 10 more days is unreasonable for purposes of progress of this case.”
The first controversy of the former president’s TPIN surrounded the import of cement by businessperson
Shaffe Chunara of Melton Hardware in Lilongwe and led to the arrest of Mutharika’s former head of security Norman Chisale, State Residences chief of staff Peter Mukhito, Malawi Revenue Authority deputy commissioner general Roza Mbilizi and Chunara.
Bank accounts of Mutharika and his wife, Gertrude, were also frozen.