Malawi vice president arrested over graft

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Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau has arrested the country’s vice president, Saulos Klaus Chilima, on corruption allegations, it says, after months of investigating his conduct.

In a public address in June, Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera stripped Chilima of his powers when the watchdog first accused him of corruption.

But at the time, the president – who has led a crackdown on corruption – said he had no constitutional authority to suspend or remove the vice president from office.

He, however, banned Chilima from performing his duties.

Chilima has been taken to court to face corruption charges, the corruption watchdog said in a statement.

Local media footage showed Chilima supporters and police apparently in a scuffle as he was taken to court for the official reading of the charges.

“I have no comment. We will let the legal process take its course,” Chilima told reporters outside court after being released on bail, according to media reports.

The watchdog claimed Chilima was rewarded for helping Xaviar Limited and Malachitte FZE, two companies linked to British businessman Zuneth Sattar, win contracts from the Malawian government.

He investigated Sattar and other public officials in Malawi over the alleged plunder of state resources by influencing the award of contracts through the country’s public procurement system, he said.

“On November 25, 2022, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) arrested Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima…on the allegation that between March 2021 and October 2021, he received a benefit in the form of money from a amount of USD 280,000 and other Zuneth Sattar items as a reward…” the office said.

In August, the Financial Times reported that Sattar was being investigated by the UK’s National Crime Agency over allegations of abuse of Malawi’s public procurement system.

NCA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

Reuters could not immediately reach Sattar for comment.

In January this year, Chakwera dissolved his entire cabinet on charges of bribery against three serving ministers.

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