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ACB, Mutharika interview over TPIN lasts 10 minutes, APM chooses to remain silent | Malawi Nyasa Times

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The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Thursday, 19 August, 2021, interviewed former President Peter Mutharika over allegations that his personal Tax Identification Certificate (TPIN) was used to import cement worth billions of Kwacha while he was in office.

According to one of Mutharika’s lawyers who preferred anonymity, Mutharika chose to remain silent and the interview lasted for 10 minutes.

Four weeks ago, Mutharika issued a statement in which he expressed reluctance to grant the interview citing a number of arguments. He said he did not see the reason why the ACB wanted to interview him when the Department of Fiscal Police did the same in August 2020, arguing he issued a statement “that clarified my position in that matter denying my involvement in the importation of cement”.

Mutharika: Nyekhwe

“Surprisingly, the ACB who never questioned me in any way froze my accounts citing the alleged use or misuse of my TPIN in that transaction,” said Mutharika in the statement, alleging political persecution.

In the statement, Mutharika had hinted he would choose to exercise his right to remain silent “if you choose to go ahead with the interview”.

Both ACB Director Martha Chizuma and Principal Public Relations Officer Egrita Ndala could not shed any light on the interview.

“I do not have any information in that regard. I have no update, hearing from you,” said Ndala in a brief response to Nyasa Times’ inquiry, while Chizuma could not respond to a questionnaire sent to her on Thursday.

In an earlier statement, Ndala said that as part of the ongoing investigation process into the allegation of abuse of Mutharika’s TPIN, the Bureau would interview him on 27 July, 2021, but that failed because Mutharika was reportedly unwell.

She said this was a normal legal process, which started in 2020 and that “the ACB hopes that this will put the record straight on the various stories circulating in the social media surrounding this matter”.

Media reports indicated that the interview was expected to start last week but it was deferred due to some technicalities. Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) officials are also expected to conduct a separate interview with the former President. MRA Head of Corporate Affairs did not respond to a questionnaire sent to him on Wednesday.

The genesis of the matter is the importation of 1 million bags of cement duty-free worth over K5 billion, reportedly using Mutharika’s duty-free status. Former security aide to former President Mutharika Paulosi Norman Chisale, former State House Director of Residences Peter Mukhito and former MRA Deputy Director General, Loza Mbilizi were arrested in connection with the matter.

A Lilongwe-based businessman of Asian origin Mahmed Shafee Ahmed Chunara was also arrested. They are all out on bail.

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