The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has moved former Malawian president Peter Mutharika’s hearing over the cement scandal by a week, the bureau said on Tuesday.
“The Anti-Corruption Bureau would like to inform Malawians that as part of the ongoing investigation process into the allegations of abuse of the former president’s taxpayer identification number, the ACB interview of the former president, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, has been postponed from 20th July to 27th July, 2021,” spokesperson Egrita Ndala said in a statement, without stating reasons for the postponement.
The interview will be conducted virtually in observance of Covid 19 prevention measures.
The ACB was supposed to interview Mutharika on Tuesday over allegations that his tax number was used to import about 800,000 bags of cement worth 1.5 billion Malawian kwacha (about US$1.8 million) duty-free.
In terms of the Presidents (Salaries and Benefits) Act, Mutharika had had privilege to import items for personal use, duty-free.
The bags of cement were imported from Zimbabwe and Zambia between 2018 and 2019 under the pretext that they were for the personal use of Mutharika.
According to Malawian media reports, Mutharika, who has denied involvement in the illegal importation, is not a suspect in the cement scandal.
His interview is part of a normal and legal process that began in 2020.
Online news outlet Malawi24 reported that former state house chief of staff Peter Mukhito, Mutharika’s former bodyguard Norman Chisale, former Malawi Revenue Authority deputy commissioner general Roza Mbilizi and businessperson Mohammed Chunara were on trial for allegedly using the former president’s tax number to import cement.
Their charges include money laundering, abuse of office, falsifying documents with intent to deceive, smuggling, and aiding and abetting smuggling.
Chisale was arrested after Chunara implicated him.
Mbilizi was arrested for allegedly facilitating the importation of the cement.
Local media reports stated that the ACB had frozen Mutharika’s two bank accounts, one being his personal bank account and the other a joint account with his wife, Getrude Mutharika.