Malawi Ex-Leader, Mutharika, Threatens Bank With Lawsuit for Freezing Accounts

Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika looks on during the official launch of his Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) manifesto and election campaign on April 7, 2019, at Kamuzu Institute for Sports in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe, ahead of next month’s elections where he will seek a second and final term in office. – Mutharika, who has been in power since 2014, will face tough opposition, including from his own deputy Saulos Chilima, at the May 21 election. (Photo by AMOS GUMULIRA / AFP)

Malawi’s former President Peter Mutharika has threatened to sue a bank in the East African nation for freezing his accounts.

Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) had ordered the ex-leader and his wife’s bank accounts be frozen in August over what it termed “strange withdrawals” during an investigation into alleged tax evasion in the importation of 800 000 bags of cement.

The alleged tax evasion offences were committed in 2018 and 2019 when Mutharika was still in power.

In a letter to Standard Bank, dated December 4 2020, signed Mutharika’s lawyer Samuel Tembenu reminded Standard Bank that the three-month restriction notice on Mutharika’s personal account and the joint account with former first lady Gertude Mutharika had expired.

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It added that the bank should thus allow the account holders access.

“On the 7th August 2020, your bank was served with a Restriction Notice issued by the Anti-Corruption Bureau under Section 23 [i] of the Corrupt Practices Act [relevant provision attached]. The notice places restriction on the bank not to deal or transact in any way in relation to the above-mentioned accounts unless you have consent of the Director of ACB,” the letter read.

“The notice was valid for a period of three months. We have not been served with any notice of extension nor are we aware of any process to that effect.

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“The validity of the notice having expired, our clients now intend to access their accounts. This letter, therefore, serves as notice of our clients’ intention to issue instructions to you, making payments out of any of the above-mentioned accounts.”

The letter warns the bank of legal action if it fails to adhere to the request.

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