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ACB accused acting outside of mandate on K404 million scam

The ongoing probe into the K404 million ($2.4 million) scam involving some civil servants at the Accountant General’s office and police and other departments has taken a new twist with the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) being accused of acting outside their mandate.

A top police officer close to the probe say Malawi Police Service (MPS) has thoroughly investigated the matter and has overwhelming evidence, but is failing to take the suspects to court since the ACB has already done so but with smaller charges.

Those arrested at police are assistant commissioners Barnet Bonjongo Mwasinga and Garnet Wilson Chandema.

MPS officer-in-charge for finance Elijah Kachikuwo was also arrested in connection with the matter.

The member of the police investigating team on the matter confided in Weekend Nation that ACB has no mandate to charge suspects with theft by public servant and abuse of office because there is no element of corruption in such charges.

“We have overwhelming evidence on the matter. Looking at the nature of the offence, there is no element of corruption but conspiracy, money laundering and theft by public servant. The ACB rushed taking the suspects to court without thorough investigations,” said the source.

The source added: “We are failing to charge them with proper offences because of the ACB charges. I do not think the ACB has the kind of information we have. What is their mandate on this matter? This is outside their Act because there is no element of corruption here. We are meeting the Financial Intelligence Unit, our partners in the investigation, to see how we shall proceed,” the officer said.

Asked to comment on the matter and that the police has overwhelming evidence including the loss of about K1 billion, national police spokesperson Davie Chingwalu said on Tuesday: “The fact that the ACB is investigating the matter means we have no comment. We do not want to jeopardise their investigations.”

ACB promised to respond to our questionnaire but by the time we went to press, it had not.

According to ACB, Chandema and Mwasinga will be charged with seven counts of theft by a person employed in the public service and one count of misuse of public office while Kachikuwo will be charged with two counts of misuse of public office.

Richard Kapinga, an accounts officer at the Accountant General’s office, was the first to be arrested after he was allegedly found with K404 million in his two business accounts at National Bank of Malawi and NBS Bank under Green Rose General Suppliers and RA & AJ Inter Trading.

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