VP Saulos Chilima is accused of accepting money and other items in exchange for awarding government contracts.

Malawi’s anti-corruption agency has arrested the country’s vice president Saulos Chilima on corruption charges, it said on Friday.

Chilima is accused of accepting money and other items in exchange for awarding government contracts, the ACB said in a statement.

The vice president was set to face court, where he is expected to face three charges of corrupt practices by a public official, among other charges, the corruption watchdog added.

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

“I have no comment to comment. We will let the judicial process take its course,” Chilima told reporters outside court after he was granted bail, according to the media.

According to the ACB statement, Chilima was rewarded for helping Xaviar Limited and Malachitte FZE, two companies associated with British businessman Zuneth Sattar, win contracts.

The watchdog has been investigating Sattar and other public officials in Malawi for allegedly looting state resources by influencing the award of contracts through the country’s public procurement system, it said.

The ACB arrested Chilima “on charges that between March 2021 and October 2021 he received benefit in the form of cash” amounting to $280,000 and other items “from Zuneth Sattar as a reward,” the statement said.

In August, the Financial Times reported that Sattar was under investigation by the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA) for alleged abuse of Malawi’s public procurement system. He had not been charged with any crime and denied wrongdoing, the report said.

NCA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday and Sattar could not be reached, according to Reuters news agency.

Earlier this year, Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera dissolved his entire cabinet on corruption charges against three serving ministers. Several ministers and former ministers have already been arrested in connection with this case, in which 53 government officials are accused of receiving money from Sattar between March and October 2021.

In June this year, Chakwera stripped Chilima of all powers after the latter was first named in allegations of corruption by the ACB. Under Malawi’s constitution, the president could not suspend or impeach Chilima because he was an elected official.

In 2020, Chilima teamed up with Chakwera to win re-election in the presidential election, winning on an anti-corruption platform.



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