THE Anti-Corruption Commission says it has closed a case in which it was investigating a former ward councillor who was alleged to have bought a bank because the allegations lacked substance.
And the Commission says it has been summoning Kabushi PF member of parliament Bowman Lusambo for further questioning on other allegations levelled against him, but he has been elusive.
Meanwhile, the Commission says the gifts received by Foreign Affairs and International Corporation Minister Stanley Kakubo from SINOMA Cement did not amount to corruption because they are promotional materials.
In September 2021, ACC revealed that it was investigating a former ward councilor of Lusaka for the suspicious purchase of a named bank with all its assets worth K300 million.
But speaking during the 2022 quarterly brief, Wednesday, ACC spokesperson Queen Chibwe said there was no substance in the allegations that were made which had led to the closure of the case.
“A former ward councilor in Lusaka who was reported to have bought a bank and together with all its assets. On this particular matter, I wish to report that there was no substance in these allegations that were made and so the case has since been closed. So just like it was, it was a former ward councilor, so using our investigations to the bank that was allegedly bought, we found that there was no substance in those reports and the case has been closed. We wouldn’t want to name just like we did not name at that particular time, because the method of investigation we used was to go to the bank and find out if at all there was any former ward councilor in Lusaka that tried to buy [it]. There was no substance in it,” she said.
When asked whether ACC had alarmed the situation by rushing to announce that they were investigating the matter, Chibwe responded in the negative, adding that the Commission was informing the public on the cases it was investigating.
“I wouldn’t say so, the Commission was doing that because at that particular time, the public wanted to know what cases we were investigating, ‘you have been too quiet as a Commission, what is it that you are doing to show us the works, so we would like to know what reports you have received’. Remember that was just after the August 12th elections that the announcement was made. So, we are basically saying these are the cases that we are investigating. Remember, I think what should be appreciated is the fact that an investigation can come out in so many different ways and when we do not name, it means we want to find out what it is that transpired, who it was that was involved if at all we are going to find out names. So, we are basically informing the nation as a duty that we have to tell them what we are doing, so that we are not seen to be not doing anything. We want to interact with members of the public so that they are kept abreast of the cases that we are doing, and we are giving the outcome of what has been the result of that particular case,” she said.
And Chibwe said the Commission had summoned Lusambo for further questioning but he had been elusive in the past few days.
“The Commission is also still making efforts through his lawyers to avail him for questioning. There are other allegations other than the possession aspect of it that he is facing currently. There are other allegations that have been leveled against Mr Lusambo. We want his lawyers to avail him to the Commission for questioning because he has been elusive in the past few days. We will continue talking to his lawyers and see how they are going to respond. We want to give them the benefit of doubt and for some time we have engaged his legal representatives, so that he is availed to the Commission. Remember this is a whole different case altogether that we are calling him for other than the possession of property reasonably [suspected] to be proceeds of crime,” she said.
Chibwe said Lusambo had no access to his seized Chamba Valley house and that if he tried to sneak in, he would be committing an offence.
“Seizure of properties worth K22.8 million suspected to be proceeds of crime located in Lusaka’s Chamba Valley area belonging to former Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo. Investigations into this matter are on-going. Following the seizure, Mr Lusambo has not had any access to these properties from the time the properties were seized. If Mr Lusambo sneaks into the house, he will be committing an offence and will face the consequences. The Commission has even placed police officers at that premises to guard it and safeguard any tempering that may happen to it. So no one would be allowed to enter the premises and it shall remain so until the investigations are concluded,” she said.
“In addition, the Commission working with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPWL) has examined the wild animals at Mr Lusambo’s premises and found that the animals are unhealthy and need to be relocated to a more suitable environment. The wild animals include seven Impalas, two Axis deer, two Zebras, two Puku and two Waterbuck.”
When asked whether the Commission was considering investigating Kakubo, Chibwe said the actions by the Foreign Affairs Minister did not amount to corruption.
“For that particular case, the Commission has looked at what has been said. I think it is a case that is being trialed on social media so to speak, where others are saying there is corruption, others are saying they received a bribe and a gift. If you look at what was displayed as having been received, those are promotional materials, isn’t it? And when you look at the Anti Corruption Act, when someone receives promotional materials from a business entity, there is no corruption whatsoever because those are allowed according to the law to be received. But anything that may come up, that would suggest that corruption would take place, as a Commission, we will carry out our mandate and do what is necessary. But we are still also following, of course we are interested in following what is being said and doing our own investigations to see if there was anything beyond what has been presented. But looking at what was presented on social media, those are promotional materials and we are yet to see anything otherwise,” she said.
Chibwe said the commission had also come across additional information in the matter in which Faith Musonda is alleged to be in possession of suspected proceeds of crime in the form of a house at Kingsland City.
“Alleged possession of suspected proceeds of crime in the form of a house at Kingsland City against Margaret Chisela Musonda, alias Faith Musonda. Following her arrest, the Commission has come across additional information in this matter concerning the same Faith Musonda and this information has led to extended investigations. Investigations into alleged possession and concealment of properties reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime against former State House Press Aide Amos Chanda. Investigations have reached an advanced stage,” she said.
When asked if the Commission had mistakenly seized property belonging to former Attorney General Likando Kalaluka, Chibwe said the Commission had received a letter from Kalaluka and was studying the contents of the same.
“I know that the former Attorney General has written to the Commission. Actually, that particular letter is being studied by the Commission to understand and appreciate what he is actually saying in that particular letter. A response will be given back to him and not until then we will [not] be able to answer any questions that relate to this particular matter where we have been written to by himself,” she said.
Meanwhile, Chibwe said the Commission had received a total of 306 reports of suspected corruption during the first quarter.
“With regard to investigations, the Commission received a total of 306 reports of suspected corruption during the quarter. Out of these reports received, a total of 148 were non- corruption related. Therefore, advice was subsequently provided to all those that brought these reports that are outside the Commission’s mandate on how best to pursue the matters complained against. Of the 306 cases, 158 reports contained elements of corruption and 132 reports were authorized for investigations. Some reports did not have sufficient details of the corruption offence to warrant investigations to be conducted. As such, four cases were referred to relevant institutions for administrative action. The complainants in these matters were also advised accordingly,” said Chibwe.
“By the close of the quarter, the Commission concluded and closed a total of 13 investigation cases. 11 arrests were also made country-wide. The Commission had 61 cases before the Courts of Law and four court cases were concluded resulting in two convictions. There were six cases pending judgement. There were no acquittals recorded in any case before Court in the first quarter. It is also worth noting that during the last quarter, the Commission handed over to government a total of ZMW 65, 333, 046 and US$ 57, 900 in recovered funds and forfeited to the State in a case of being in possession of suspected property reasonably believed to have been proceeds of crime against Margaret Chisela Musonda, alias Faith Musonda.”