Former Malawi president summoned for questioning by anti-corruption body

Former President Bakili Muluzi has been summoned by Malawi's official anti-corruption bureau to answer questions about the source of his personal wealth, which is believed to be in the millions of dollars (euros), officials said Tuesday.

Muluzi will be questioned Monday about transactions he had with Taiwan, Libya, Morocco, Rwanda and some foreign organizations, anti-corruption bureau director Gustave Kaliwo said in a letter to Muluzi that was leaked to The Nation and The Daily Times newspapers. Kaliwo confirmed the authenticity of the letter.

The bureau alleges Muluzi diverted money meant for the state into his personal account. The letter instructs him to answer questions and produce all original documents or certified copies in his possession relating to the transactions under scrutiny.

Kaliwo alleges Muluzi, a businessman with interests ranging from real estate to media, transport and retail, pocketed nearly 1.4 billion Malawi Kwacha (US$11.5 million; Ђ9.5 million) between April 1999 and November 2004, without supporting bank transactions.

The bureau also alleges Muluzi received money from "unknown sources" and other money from large companies operating in Malawi.

Muluzi's lawyer, David Kanyenda, confirmed receiving the letter and said he was waiting for instructions from his client. He did not comment on the merits of the accusations. No charges have been brought so far.

The former president was well known for dishing out money to thousands of his supporters at political rallies during his 10 years in office. He also let people shop on his account whenever he showed up at supermarkets.

President Bingu wa Mutharika has waged what he calls a "zero tolerance" campaign against corruption in Malawi. Wa Mutharika was Muluzi's hand-picked successor, but the two had a falling out shortly after Wa Mutharika was elected in May 2004.

Several top officials, including former ministers in Muluzi's government, have been arrested on fraud and corruption charges. Prosecutors have said at least six former senior ministers are under investigation.

Critics allege the anti-corruption drive is politically motivated. The government has denied that charge.

Wa Mutharika quit the former ruling United Democratic Front in February and the party, backed by the opposition Malawi Congress Party, is now trying to launch impeachment proceedings against him, prompting heated debates in Parliament, AP reported. V.A.

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