Chaponda arrested, ACB quizzes ex-Malawi minister on corruption in maizegate case

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    As reported by Nyasa Times that arrest was imminent for George Thapatula Chaponda—the erstwhile Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development and Leader of the House — the graft busting body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Wednesday morning questioned Chaponda under arrest after concluding its investigations into corruption element in Malawi’s maize imports from Zambia.

    Chaponda: Arrested

    ACB Director of Legal and Prosecution Chrispin Khunga confirmed Chaponda’s arrest outside ACB offices in Blantyre .

    “Dr. Chaponda is under arrest. ACB will be questioning him,” he said.

    According to Khunga, ACB obtained the warrant of arrest from the court last week.

    Chaponda was accompanied by his lawyer Jai Banda at the ACB offices in Blantyre and questioning continued for over two hours, said a senior ACB officer.

    Lawyer Banda confirmed the former minister was facing questions from ACB.

    Two state sponsored public inquiries recommended that Chaponda, who is also the vice president of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), should be investigated.

    Reyneck Matemba, the deputy director of the ACB said the bureau concluded its investigations on forensic investigation of suitcases stashed with cash – US$58,000 and MK124 million seized at Chaponda’s house during the raid in February this year.

    ACB raided Chaponda’s residence following a recommendation by the commission of inquiry into Malawi’s maize imports from Zambia that he should be investigated.

    He said the bureau has been workly closely with Reserve Bank of Malawi on the cash which was seized from Chaponda’s residence.

    Chaponda justified why he is cash-rich after they confiscated at least K166 million stashed in suitcases at his house, saying he has worked for the United Nations (UN) for over 20 years and has his own investment..

    He also submitted his assets declaration form to ACB which indicates he hold many bank accounts in foreign countries where he worked for UN.

    A lists of assets Chaponda declared as of February 1, 2017 seen by Nyasa Times shows that he has 20 real estate properties in Lilongwe, Blantyre, France, Luchenza, Mangochi, Thyolo and Chiradzulu.

    Legal commentator based at South Africa’s University of Cape Town, Professor Danwood Chirwa argued that Chaponda has “committed or is alleged to have committed a litany of legal infringements including flouting procurement law, gross negligence in the discharge of his public duties, perjury, arson, corruption and money laundering.”

    University of Malawi political scientist Boniface Dulani is in record saying that the decision to fire Chaponda from Cabinet was forced on President Peter Mutharika who would have maintained the minister if he had his way.

    Dulani said the maizegate—just like Cashgate on Joyce Banda—will forever be associated with the Mutharika’s regime.

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