15. February 2019

ICAR training in Malawi supports anti-corruption efforts

ICAR trainers and Jean Priminta in Malawi

The Basel Institute’s International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR) continues to support DFID’s Tackling Serious Organised Corruption (TSOC) programme in Malawi by enhancing local capacity to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate complex financial cases, including money laundering.

ICAR trainers conducted a second five-day workshop in Lilongwe from 28 January to 1 February 2019, covering financial investigations, asset tracing/forfeiture and Mutual Legal Assistance. This followed a successful first workshop in July 2018.

The 32 participants included representatives of the judiciary, Financial Intelligence Authority and Reserve Bank of Malawi, prosecutors from the Directorate of Public Prosecutions and Department of National Parks and Wildlife and officers from the Malawi Police Service and Anti-Corruption Bureau.

Jean Priminta, Chief Deputy State Advocate, gave a presentation on the challenges facing investigators and prosecutors in Malawi when dealing with money laundering. She emphasised that it was only after Cashgate offences emerged that prosecutors started prosecuting money laundering in earnest. Ms Priminta (shown standing with ICAR trainers in the photo below – second from the right) was a junior researcher with the Basel Institute for six months in 2013. It was most encouraging to witness the significant role she is playing Malawi, particularly as she bears responsibility for setting up an asset recovery division within the DPP.

Money-laundering convictions in Malawi

Although money-laundering convictions remain scarce, Malawi’s ongoing efforts to bring criminals to book are finally bearing fruit. Particularly in the wake of the Cashgate scandal and revelations of fraud amounting to USD32 million – equivalent to almost 1% of Malawi’s annual GDP in just six months – local criminal authorities have focused efforts on investigating and prosecuting money laundering and proceeds-generating crime.

On 10 January 2019, the High Court in Lilongwe convicted a married couple and eight civil servants of theft and money laundering of MKW 201 million (nearly USD276,000) as well as conspiracy to commit a felony.