Malawi: Late President amassed over US$175 mln in wealth

Mutharika: His wealth cant be explained todate
Mutharika: His wealth cant be explained todate

By Mabvuto Banda

Malawi’s Bingu wa Mutharika portrayed himself as the all-knowing “economist-in-chief,”after he presided over unprecedented economic growth in the eight years he was in power in one of Africa’s most poor nations.

A former World Bank Economist,Mutharika had the free-market credentials to get the mainly agricultural economy moving – and for most of his years in power, it worked.

But if latest disclosures in court about his wealth are anything to go by, Mutharika who died on April 6, 2012 after a heart attack, will sadly be remembered as an African autocrat who enjoyed his ill-gotten gains when the masses died from drug shortages, colleges were closed and many lost their jobs.

Court records show that Mutharika had K61 billion in assets and cash stashed outside in the United States, Britain, Portugal, South Africa and Zimbabwe where his first wife came from.

According to court records, his British account at Barclays had no money at the time of his death.

In South Africa, late Mutharika had stashed US$35 million at a Taiwanese Bank. He left US$4 million at another bank in the United States and another US$4.4 million at a United Nations account (UNFCU), which he had opened when he worked at the UN years ago.

“Although I have not yet completed my exercise, as the estate is huge and somewhat complex and in various countries, my preliminary examination has approximately valued the entire state as a gross value of K61 billion (US$175 million),” said the property evaluator, Yeremiah Chihana in a signed affidavit.

“This sum is from property and account balances held in bank accounts within and outside the jurisdiction…” Chihana said