Wednesday, 24 February, 2021

Malawi: Ex President Peter Mutharika’s Bank Accounts Still Frozen

The High Court has said the court order which the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) obtained to freeze the bank accounts of former president Peter Mutharika froze in November but was renewed and dismissed an application by Mutharika seeking to reserve a Restriction Notice (RN) issued by graft-busting body.

In August last year ACB froze the personal bank accounts of Mutharika and his wife, Gertrude, in a probe seeking to uncover his role in a K5 billion cement scandal.

The bureau argues that Mutharika’s tax number was used to import cement duty-free between 2018 and 2019.

Mutharika through his lawyer Samuel Tembenu applied to the High Court to reverse the a Restriction Notice.

The court has therefore has dismissed Mutharika’s application to lift a restriction notice which the ACB put on the former president’s bank accounts at National Bank of Malawi and Standard Bank.

Judge Rowland Mbvundula said at the time Mutharika made his application, there was no restriction notice because it had expired in November.

“Section 23 (3) of the Criminal Procedures Act (CPA) is clear that the respondent may cancel an existing restriction notice. Consequently the person against whom the restriction notice was issued is free to access his bank accounts without seeking the respondent’s or anyone else’s permission, including that of the bank to which the notice was issued,” said Mbvundula in his determination.

“In the present case, therefore, the applicant was, as of November 25, 2020 (the date when he filed the within application to reverse the RN), at liberty to access his bank accounts herein without the aid of the court, unless he was restrained from doing so (which is not alleged) as there was no restriction notice in existence,” he added.

However, the former president may not be able to withdraw money from his bank accounts because the ACB managed to have the restriction notice renewed a few days after it had expired.

Justice Mbvundula therefore dismissed the application with costs.

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