The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has summoned former minister of Lands Atupele Muluzi for questioning over the allocation of some plots in Lilongwe linked to United Kingdom-based businessperson Zuneth Sattar.
According to a notice from ACB director general Martha Chizuma dated November 9, Atupele, who served in the ministry from 2015 to 2017 during the Peter Mutharika administration, will appear at ACB head office in Lilongwe today.
Reads the notice in part: “Whereas you are the former minister of the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, in Republic of Malawi, take notice that I require you, to appear before officers of the Anti-Corruption Bureau at Anti-Corruption Bureau offices, Mulanje House in City Centre, Lilongwe on 10th November 2022, at 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon to answer questions in connection with allocation of Plot Numbers Bwaila 13/127 and 13/128.”
The plots in question appear on the list of properties linked to Sattar which the graft-busting body issued a restriction order on December 23 2021.
In an interview yesterday, Atupele, son to former president Bakili Muluzi, confirmed being summoned, but feigned ignorance of the details of the ACB investigation.
He said: “The only details I have received are the ones on the summons. You may wish to contact the ACB for further details.”
But writing on his Facebook wall, Atupele pledged to avail himself to the ACB for questioning to aid the bureau in its investigations.
He wrote: “As a firm believer in the rule of law and due process of the law, I take this as routine process of the work of the bureau and no cause for worry for me or my supporters as all things become clear after the process.”
In its December 23 2021 restriction notice, ACB stopped the Ministry of Lands from dealing with properties which it believed Sattar, who is under probe over some procurement contracts with Malawi Government ministries, departments and agencies, has beneficial interest.
The restriction order reads in part: “The restriction notice has been issued as part of investigations by the bureau following allegations that Zuneth Sattar and his agent Ashok Kumar Sreedharan aka Ashok Nair have been giving bribes to politically exposed persons with the aim of influencing various Malawi Government Departments to corruptly award contracts to companies belonging to Zuneth Sattar.”
On whether he knew that the plots were linked to Sattar, Atupele said, “No, I am not aware. [I have] no idea about the facts. Will wait to hear tomorrow [today].”
ACB principal public relations officer Egritta Ndala yesterday refused to comment on the matter, saying, they do not make such summons public.
On December 31 2021, another former minister of Lands Kezzie Msukwa was arrested alongside Nair on corruption allegations relating to land deals with Sattar, but the ACB is awaiting the determination of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal to move with the case.
The Supreme Court is expected to determine on the admissibility of foreign obtained evidence.
Msukwa also wants the court to rule on whether the ACB is legally mandated to enter into formal or informal cooperation arrangements with the purpose of exchanging information or evidence in criminal matters without going through the Attorney General.