BY PIJ REPORTER
Former President Peter Mutharika’s security aide has temporarily lost all his wealth, accumulated during the time that he was serving the former Malawi leader, following the High Court preservation order that granted the state a go-ahead to seize his assets.
Making the ruling on Friday in Lilongwe, the court said assets amounting to K1.7 billion belonging to Mutharika’s security aide Norman Chisale be seized and brought under the control of the concerned Competent Authority under the Financial Crimes Act, until the conclusion of the forfeiture proceedings or until a contrary order of the court is issued.
Chisale was first arrested in July last year following the loss of Mutharika in the June 23, 2020, presidential elections. The government has said the arrest of Chisale is part of an initiative to fight corruption left over from the Mutharika administration.
He is answering to fraud and money-laundering charges related to a cement import investigation where officials used Mutharika’s duty-free status to import the commodity on behalf of some business people of Asian origin. Chisale is suspected to have used Mutharika’s Taxpayer Identification Number (TPIN) to import thousands of bags of cement worth K5 billion without paying tax.
The office of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) through the Asset Forfeiture Unit, the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA), Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and Malawi Police Service (MPS) Fiscal and Fraud Department and other law enforcement agencies jointly applied for the court order which Justice Mike Tembo granted.
The DPP, Steven Kayuni, confirmed that through their joint efforts and coordination strategy, they have secured a preservation order for property worth 1.7 billion Malawi Kwacha in connection with Chisale.
“Him alone accumulated all that property of which there is reasonable ground to believe that it is proceeds of a crime and is likely to be seized by the government,” he said.
FIA legal services manager Dr Jean Philipo Priminta, chief State advocate Edwin Mtonga, FIA legal director Collins Chitsime and senior State advocate Pilirani Masanjala made submissions to the court on behalf of the State.
The list of property the State has seized following the preservation order has 86 motor vehicles and 21 real properties that include residential houses and commercial buildings in suburbs of Blantyre and Lilongwe as well as other places including his home district in Ntcheu. Some properties are in Dedza and Mangochi.
Some of the seized assets include forty-eight Toyota vehicles ranging from Prado, Noah, Runx, Vitz, Crown, Filder, Alphard, Sienta, Ipsum, Harrier, Raum, Voxy, Land Cruiser, Hiace, Coaster.
There are also three Mercedes-Benz, and other types that include BMW, Eicher truck, Audi, Volkswagen, Nissan, Land Rover, Jeep, Ford, Chrysler, Tata, Isuzu and some only registered with chassis numbers.
Norman Paulos Chisale, Chimwemwe Paulosi trading as Namauya Investments, Deborah Zimatha Chisale, Esnart Guga, Flony Guga, Jannet Fatch Kamanga, Christina Mvula these are from first to sixth respondents respectively.
Sixty-three listed cars show the name Norman P Chisale as importer, while 23 cars have blank spaces on the importers.
Chisale is also answering to the attempted-murder charge for allegedly shooting a woman in the knee in Blantyre.
He was first arrested on July 14 this year on counts of fraud and money laundering before being re-arrested three days later on a charge of attempted murder.
On 28 July, Chisale was re-arrested on suspicion that he had a hand in the killing of Issa Njauju who until his death was Anti-Corruption Bureau Director of Corporate Affairs. He is also being accused of using another person’s Malawi School Leaving Certificate to join the Malawi Defence Force.
Cash in two bank accounts that are both under a freezing order obtained by FIA has also been seized, over MK30 million in a National Bank account and over K87 million in a First Bank Account.
Chisale’s lawyer Chancy Gondwe said he was yet to get instructions on the matter before hinting that the list of property is misleading, arguing that his client does not own all the listed property.
According to a declaration of assets form filed at the Office of the Director of Public Officers Declarations, Chisale declared that he owns residential houses and motor vehicles.
Nowhere on the declaration forms does Chisale provide a clear source of his income as declared no business outside his work at State Residences.
During his service with Mutharika he made donations of assets such as vehicles and a church building.
Chisale declared that three of the luxury vehicles he owns were “gifts” from his friends. He declared a Mercedes Benz with personalised registration NPC1 (initials standing for Norman Paulos Chisale) as a gift from a friend in London Dhada Motors. He also declared a Toyota Landcruiser VX as “a gift from a friend in Dubai and a BMW X5 as a gift from a Mr Kadango in Lilongwe.
The list also includes a Mercedes Benz registration NPC2 pegged at K8 million, a house in Kanjedza Township in Blantyre valued at K30 million which he said was a “a loan from Mr L. Fazeh”. He also declared to have sold a plot in Area 49, Lilongwe to former Cabinet minister Ben Phiri at K12 million.
On liabilities incurred, he indicated on the declaration forms “K200 000 000 FDH Bank account”, suggesting he might have borrowed the money from the bank.
In the order, judge Tembo stated that the respondents or any interested third party wishing to oppose the order were at liberty to file their notice in terms of section 66 of the Financial Crimes Act.
“The respondents or any persons are prohibited from disposing of, or otherwise dealing with, the whole or part thereof or interest therein of the property specified in this order, except in a manner specified in this order or directed by the court,” reads the order in part.
It also stated that the claimants ‘shall cause this preservation order to be published in the Government Gazette or two newspapers of the widest circulation within 21 days of this order.’