By Attwel Chilangambwa
After using the embattled Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General Martha Chizuma for illegal entry into Malawi, British National Crimes Agency (NCA) has now backtracked its actions on corruption probe.
The British NCA used Chizuma who is being now for by-passing other state agencies including Attorney General Office (AG), Director of Public Prosecution (DDP), National Intelligent Bureau (NIB), Immigration department on the alleged corruption investigations involving businessman Zuneth Sattar.
ACB boss Chizuma admitted that ignored and alienated the Attorney General (AG) in pursuit of the businessman after the NCA had tipped them on their two years’ investigation.
Sources within ACB told this publication on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 that British NCA is ashamed of its conduct on corruption probe.
The source said that with the leaked audio case in court has left NCA no option but to leave Chizuma alone as how will proceed with the case.
The source added that NCA failed to establish real public officers who were involved in the alleged corruption while targeting the suppliers only, who is Sattar.
“The British NCA are in a fix on how to proceed with their illegal investigation on alleged corruption probe; firstly, AG, DPP, NIB and Immigration were by-passed this means by law their (NCA) work is invalid. Secondly, there is only one side the British NCA and Chizuma are interested on supplier only not public officers who requested the services.
“If Sattar as supplier is being questioned for contract. Where is the buyer’s statements or explanation? Nothing is done or questioned. No witness statements either. Sattar is a target of Harassment. According to law. Supplier is the last to be asked. Buying entity is first to be questioned. But buying entity is free and only the supplier is harassed,” said the source.
The source added further that AG, DPP do not have enough grounds to prosecute someone which later will cost government heavily.
“With also the leaked audio case in court puts the British NCA on spotlight disarray which was also mentioned in the audio. The audio exposed all NCA and Chizuma (not ACB office) personal vendetta on businessman Sattar. Chizuma’s public trust is gone,” says the source.
However, there is a few names on social media circulating being tagged in the investigation including President Lazarus Chakwera, Veep Saulos Chilima, Prince Kampondamgaga (State House Chief of Staff), Chimwendo Banda (Sport Minister), Eisenhower Mkaka (Natural Resource Minister), George Kainja (Inspector General of Police), Vincent Nundwe (Army Commander), Suzi Banda, Atupele Muluzi (UDF leader), Dan Kuwali, Judge Chikopa and others.
This publication managed to contact Kapondamgaga, Mkaka, Muluzi who they denied of being involved in the alleged corruption.
Sattar was contacted for an interview where he went no comment and said he was traveling and could not continue the call.
However, when contacted Sattar’s Press officer, Zoe Iktiactivit said the said names do not give contracts.
“We have all information and supporting documentation if needed. A government contract is not awarded by an individual. Neither the said names have powers to give contracts. It’s a shame people think this way.
“A contract is discussed at first amongst an IPC. Then goes to the director of the department who then recommends to the senior management. Then it’s sent to PPDA who amongst 10-15 officers decide to approve or recommend to their board. Then the board of 5-10 officers sits to discuss,” says iktiactivit.
She added, “Then the recommendation is sent to ACB for vetting to check if there is no criminal record with the requested company. Upon no objection from ACB, the decision is still pending seeking the Ministry of finance to approve the procurement confirming funding is or will be available
“Upon this confirmation the matter is then sent as a provisional approval to the requesting department. Who then inform the supplier of the award of contract preparing a draft contract to then send to the ministry of justice for confirmation. Then after it is sent to government contracting unit. Further after there, it is then sent to OPC where the SPC signs the final approval for the contract to be awarded”.
Zoe quarrels, “The contract is binded and signed amongst the two parties. The contract literally goes through 70-80 government personnel’s till approved. How would one bribe all these officers? Just doesn’t make sense. And should there have been anything suspicious, at least one officer would have raised a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR). Anyway let’s wait and see what the outcome comes out. We are all set with our calculations for our losses”.
“It is very unfair to suspect honest officers to be corrupt. It’s a shame. And again who is the complainant’? asked Zoe.
She added, “Government of Malawi is receiving the shipments as well and honouring their contracts and payments, so who is the actual complainant. If it’s the British government then who’s complained to them as in representative to GOM.
“Let’s not forget. Malawi is a sovereign nation and has its own decisions and cannot be ruled for others political interests”.
This publication understands that Sattar is waiting for the NCA to charge him and proceed to court.
That’s when the first argument Sattar’s Representatives from Raymond’s buildings called Simon Farell QC will ask for the legal mutual assistance in court as a start to the case argument.
Simon Farell QC is expected to cross examine the mentioned Malawi Government officials to confirm if there was any sort of corrupt practice amongst them as per the intelligence information the NCA have.
However, if no Legal Mutual Assistance was followed then all intelligence information cannot be used as evidence at all as per law it is unlawfully obtained and according to law it becomes irrelevant and inadmissible in a court of law.
“Knowing the British law and judges, they are no time wasters and very professional where they will trash such cases which don’t follow protocol.
“This case seems very difficult and one of the first of this type in the history of England where no witness statements or whatsoever from the buying entity of another country and a supplier who is based in UK to face charges on suspicion of corrupting and bribery,” admits British legal expert.
Sattar’s lawyer Simon Farell is a very senior QC who even at times is hired as a judge on some cases.
Simon Farell QC has dealt with cases for the Sultan of Brunei and we hear but have no confirmation that his charges are £1,500.00 an hour.
“If this case continues, it will cost Malawi government heavy legal billing that’s why both AG and DPP are studying the matter thoroughly without emotions the way Chizuma is currently doing.
“The current Tonse government is unable to conclude suspected corruption cases as arrests were done without enough evidence”, chipped in another legal expert.
Besides the disclosure about the ACB conduct in handling the matter, ACB did not collaborate well, thereby according to law putting the whole case in jeopardy in Malawi and United Kingdom.
“Why selling entity is being harassed and business accounts blocked. Anything that British NCA got is irrelevant and not submisible in court. This is illegal operation could cost the Malawi government billions of kwachas in losses to the supplier”, says senior legal advisor in the Ministry of Justice.
He added, “Chizuma’s trust among the public completely lost though some quarters of the society including CSOs do not want to come up against her for breaching ACB’s Office oath.
“Where on earth does someone continue to work when break Office oath? The pressure on Chizuma step down, is nothing to do with gender, being woman but respect of law in public office of ACB”.
Sources have confirmed Sattar to have signed a massive contract with the government of Ukraine of which deliveries have been shown but again Sattar when asked just laughed and said no comment again.
ACB acted illegally by communicating and accepting a team from NCA to operate and run affairs in Malawi without permission.
Both the AG and DPP argue that ACB contravened the Laws of Malawi: Chapter 8.04 and Chapter 16.01 which deals with mutual assistance in criminal matters and immunities and privileges respectively.
This means that any ACB involvement with British NCA without AG is invalid that the graft body needs to start all over again.