Malawi's former agriculture minister arrested

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-20 13:23:22|Editor: Zhou Xin
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LILONGWE, July 19 (Xinhua) -- East African Malawi's graft busting body, the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB), Wednesday arrested former Agriculture Minister George Chaponda, who was under investigation for corruption.

Chaponda was allegedly involved in dubious procurement of maize from the neighboring Zambia, and was recently fired as agriculture minister by President Peter Mutharika to pave the way for investigations.

The maize was meant to serve Malawi people who were going through a period of hunger, which had resulted from persistent droughts and excessive rainfall in some parts of the country.

According to Egrita Ndala, ACB Senior Public Relations Officer, the bureau received a complaint last December that procedures had not been followed during the procurement of the country's staple food from Zambia.

The ACB sent its officers to Zambia in January where they interviewed relevant people together with the Anti-Corruption Commission of Zambia.

An abrupt fire razed Chaponda's office and destroyed all documents on Feb. 14 while investigations were still underway. This aroused public suspicion that the arson was Chaponda's desperate attempt to destroy all the evidence therein.

On Feb. 21, ACB officers raided the residences of Chaponda where they found and confiscated 58,000 U.S. dollars and 124 million Malawian Kwachas of local currency (about 171,100 dollars) in stacks of cash stashed in suitcases.

"The Ant-Corruption Bureau investigation established that there were offences committed in the procurement of the maize from Zambia," an official statement on the arrest said.

Chaponda is yet to be granted court bail. He faces three counts of corruptly performing public functions, misuse of public office, and illegal possession of foreign currency. (1 U.S. dollar = 724.70 Malawian Kwachas)