The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) says it will not lay criminal charges against suspended State Residences Chief of Staff Prince Kapondamgaga for allegedly receiving bribes from United Kingdom-based businessperson Zuneth Sattar.
ACB principal public relations officer Egrita Ndala in a statement on Friday said the graft-bust ing body’s investigations established that Kapondamgaga received a Mercedes Benz S-Class 350d and other gifts from Sattar.
But, according to the statement, Kapondamgaga signed a restitution agreement with the ACB after recording a statement; hence, he will not face criminal charges.
Restitution refers to a claim or remedy requiring a defendant to give up benefits wrongfully obtained.
Reads part of the statement: “At the moment, he [Kapondamgaga] has already surrendered the Mercedes Benz S-Class 350d.
“After a review of the evidence against Mr Kapondamgaga in this case, evaluation of the information he provided in respect of the broader investigations relating to Zuneth Sattar and the restitution agreement he has voluntarily entered with the bureau, a prosecutorial discretion has been exercised not to lay criminal charges against him.”
This means the ACB has since completed and closed investigations against the suspended Chief of Staff.
T h e A C B h a s s i n c e recommended the Office of the President and Cabinet to immediately review the Malawi Public Service Regulations in accordance with President Lazarus Chakwera’s directive on June 21 2022.
The presidential directive pertains to the suspension of Kapondamgaga pending ACB’s investigations.
Wi t h t h e A C B ’ s recommendation to the OPC, it means the presidential directive will have to be put aside and have Kapondamgaga resume his role as Chief of State Residences.
But Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency (Csat) executive director Willy Kambwandira in an interview yesterday said the ACB’s move shows that the country has lost its fight against corruption.
He said: “Whether this move is based on law or procedure, let it be done in a transparent and accountable manner not just to save some sacred cows.
“The ACB and DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions] need to explain to Malawians how this particular arrangement works for everyone. Otherwise, the move only confirms that we have lost the fight against corruption.”
Kambwandira said if no further explanations are made, it would, therefore, be easy for Malawians to conclude that such decisions are political and benefit only those connected to power.
Kapondamgaga was suspended on July 21 2022 following an ACB report that implicated him in alleged corrupt dealings with Sattar, who is accused of allegedly bribing government officials to influence award of public contracts to his firms.
He was suspended alongside the then Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (PPDA) chairperson John Suzi-Banda who resigned two weeks later.
The ACB’s report also implicated Vice-President Saulos Chilima, former Inspector General of Police George Kainja and 53 other public officers.
While Kainja was fired, Chakwera withheld Chilima’s delegated powers pending the ACB’s investigations.
The ACB arrested Kainja on June 23 2022 for receiving an advantage from Sattar to influence a procurement contract reference number MPS/SB/16/04/2021 to supply 350 000 food ration packs worth $7 875 000 by unlawfully initiating a requisition of the procurement on instruction of the UK businessperson.