I am reluctant to grant ACB interview – Mutharika

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Former President of the Republic of Malawi, Professor Peter Mutharika says he is reluctant to grant the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) interview because it is extremely strange that an institution like the ACB with accusatorial and investigative powers would seek to interview him.

Three state organs; the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Malawi Revenue Authority [MRA] and Finance Intelligence Unit (FIU) were set to interview Professor Mutharika at his Page House in Mangochi virtually on Tuesday, 27th July, 2021 after the same interview failed on 20th July following Mutharika’s lawyer, Samuel Tembenu SC application to have the documents in advance.

It is alleged that Professor Mutharika’s Taxpayers Identification Number (TPIN) while he was President of the Republic of Malawi, was used by his advisors including his personal bodyguard, Norman Paulosi Chisale and business people to import bags of cement and other materials using a duty-free card.

In a statement signed by Professor Mutharika himself, says in August, 2020, the Fiscal police questioned him under caution regarding the use of his personal Tax Identification Number during the time he was the President of Malawi saying he issued a statement that clarified his position on that matter denying any involvement in the importation of that cement.

Professor Mutharika says surprisingly, the ACB who never questioned him in any way froze his accounts citing the alleged use or misuse of his TPIN in the transaction saying they continued to keep the accounts frozen for over 270 days until they could no longer renew the Restriction Notice that froze the accounts.

He says he was neither charged nor informed by the ACB questioning it why the institution subjected him to this kind of treatment saying he now know that after the expiry of the freezing order under the Financial Crimes Act, an act that was intended to maintain the freezing orders.

Professor Mutharika says now he is being called upon to answer questions by the ACB in what they have described as an interview for offence he is not aware of saying he consider this to be part of the continued persecution and harassment by the ACB and it is intended to humiliate and taunt him psychologically demanding to know the offense he has committed.

“All this is a sustained political witch hunt by state institution , If as a former Head of State, must be called to answer these questions , then fairness demands that every President and Vice President to be called upon to explain how the TPIN has been used,”reads the statement in part.

The Former President says for the reasons given and out of courtesy of their institution, he will listen to their questions if they decide to proceed, but he will exercise his right to remain silent unless he is also told if he has committed any offence and thereafter, he will seek legal advice on how best to respond to the questions.

Meanwhile, one of the social media commentators, Joshua Chisa Mbele writing on his face book page says Mutharika’s rights are being infringed, ‘’Nayenso ndi munthu’’ saying he is still innocent till proven otherwise, 12 months to be placed under suspicion is grossly unfair.

“Somehow, I agree with Professor Mutharika, you can’t have your Bank Account frozen for a year without being charged, you can’t have Fiscal Police and ACB probing the same issue,’’ reads Chisa Mbele writings on the wall.