Malawi's Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is denying that the seizure of ex-President Bakili Muluzi's passport was politically motivated. The former president was scheduled to visit the United Kingdom Wednesday for a medical checkup.
But the ACB seized Muluzi's passport over the weekend, claiming it had information that the former president would not return to face corruption charges.
Muluzi is under investigation for
allegedly diverting donor funds into his personal account, charges he denies.
Alex Nampota, the chairman of Malawi's Anti-Corruption Bureau, told VOA that his agency is not against Muluzi's medical trip abroad.
"We as a bureau seized his passport after we had voluntarily given it to him, and we had no problems in him going for medical checkup," Nampota said.
He said the ACB seized the former president's passport in response to a tip.
"Institutions like ours receiving information to the effect that there is a possible likelihood that justice would be defeated are supposed to take the necessary actions. We got complaints that once Dr. Muluzi leaves for medication he is going to perpetually extend his stay there and probably not come back," he said.
Nampota said his agency seized Muluzi's passport for two reasons.
"The first one is to do verification, and the second one is to file an application with the court for the court to impose a further bail. In terms of the Corrupt Practices Act, it's open to the Anti-Corruption Bureau to ask the court to impose further bail where somebody is leaving the country," Nampota said.
He said the ACB is not to blame for the delay in investigations into the alleged corruption charges against former President Muluzi.
"Who has made this case take this long? You remember it was stopped by an injunction. The bureau could not flout a court order by proceeding further with this case. The injunction was on the basis that Dr. Muluzi wants to challenge the powers of the ACB in the Constitutional Court," he said.
Ex-President Bakili Muluzi and his opposition United Democratic Front party were not readily available for comment.