The application by Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to further freeze bank accounts for former president Peter Mutharika has been thrown out through the window by the High Court in Lilongwe, the Capital.
The High Court Judge Redson Kapindu turned down to grant the order as the ACB failed to provide comprehensive justification for the application. The court faulted the ACB as they failed to prove the urgency of its application.
The ruling read, “this court strongly discourages the practice of needlessly hopping from one court to another seeking essentially the same remedy or a remedy of essentially the same effect”.
“Unless otherwise motivated, which motivation has not been provided in the instant case, this is an application which ought to have been brought before the same court that has active proceedings on the restriction notice relating to the same bank accounts, and I so direct,” Kapindu ruled. In addition, “for the foregoing reasons, the application for a preservation order herein is declined.”
The ACB alleges that Mutharika committed offences that include tax evasion and abuse of office through the clearing of goods, money laundering and abuse of office by individuals who were working with him.
In the ruling, which was made on May 21 2021, the High Court finds several faults with the ACB’s application. Among them is the poor filing of court documents and factual error on Mutharika’s dates of tenure of office. The judge corrected ACB on a factual mistake that Mutharika was the head of state from May 2014 to July 2020. The court says Mutharika was president from May 2014 to June 2020.
The ruling read further, “while all these sections, that is to say, section 65 of the FCA on the one hand and sections 107 and 108 of the FCA (Financial Crimes Act) on the other, deal with preservation orders, they do so in different contexts, and this is an anomaly in the claimant’s documentation that should have been avoided. Good preparation of court documents is a virtue”.
Earlier last week, ACB spokesperson Egritta Ndala had announced that the bureau’s officials would interrogate Mutharika on issues such as importation of cement using his Tax Personal Identification Number (TPIN).