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Let us wait for the law to take its course, says Austin Liato
30 November 2011 Wednesday 07:02 AM Views: 2090 times
Former Labour Minister Austin Liato

Liato, a former Labour minister in the Rupiah Banda government at whose farm law enforcement agencies found K2.1 billion hidden underground, appeared before investigators for two hours and fifteen minutes at the former office of the Task Force on Corruption.

Asked about his whereabouts since the discovery of the K2.1 billion last Thursday, Li
ato declined to comment.

“I am not saying anything,” said Liato as his lawyers and police officers moved in to shield him while journalists pushed to get quotes from him.

He declined to tell the journalists the source of his funds and the manner he kept it.

Asked if he felt persecuted, Liato responded: “Let us wait for the law to take its course.”

The police quickly whisked him away.

Liato surrendered himself to law enforcement agencies at exactly 15:00 hours yesterday for interrogation in connection with the K2.1 billion unearthed at his farm in Mwembeshi area in Mumbwa district last Thursday.

Liato, an MMD national executive committee (NEC) chairman for labour but on suspension over the money saga, arrived at the former offices of the Taskforce on Corruption in the company of about six of his relatives, political ally Joseph Mulyata and lawyer Nelly Mutti, among others.

Liato, whom Inspector General of Police Dr Martin Malama had urged to come out of hiding after a five-day non-appearance before investigators, walked aided by a walking stick after disembarking from a vehicle registration number ABX 5232.

When journalists asked how he was feeling, the exhausted-looking Liato said: “I am fine. How are you?”

Liato was quickly ushered into the premises of the former Taskforce on Corruption while his relatives and journalists were told to remain outside.

After the over two-hour interrogation, police and other law enforcement officers came out with Liato as journalists jostled to interview him but without success.

The officers later put Liato in a Nissan Hard Body and drove him to his residence in Kalundu suburb in Lusaka, where the officers conducted a search.

Earlier in the day, investigators interrogated a woman suspected to be Liato’s girlfriend.

The woman was interrogated in the morning at the offices of the former Task Force on Corruption in Lusaka in connection with the K2.1 billion that was found hidden underground at Liato’s farm.

According to sources, the woman was picked from a bus coming from Sesheke district in Western Province.

She was interrogated for over an hour and when she came out and found photojournalists outside the premises, the woman hid her face and started crying.

Police officers had to help her to look for a taxi but in the process a lady came with a car and she was whisked away.

Meanwhile, Zambia Revenue Authority Commissioner-General Berlin Msiska says the institution is interested in the K2.1 billion which was unearthed at Liato’s farm by investigative wings.

In a statement yesterday, Msiska stated that ZRA was interested in the money for accountability purposes.

“Taxation does not consider whether income is from a legitimate source, such as a business, or not. It focuses on the fact that income has been received by a person. The key issue is that the income has been received,” stated Msiska.

“In a nutshell, what is material is that the income has been paid to, given or accrues to the person. What is essential is that the income accrues to the person in the person’s favour, is due to the person or held to the person’s order or on the person’s behalf. This also applies to income that is in any way disposed of in accordance with a person’s order or in a person’s favour.”

According to Msiska, a person’s income is liable to tax on the basis that it has been received by that person or belongs to that person.

“Tax equity is not attained and invariably complying taxpayers have to pay taxes for those who are non-compliant. The government is also deprived of the much-needed resources that are required for developmental programmes,” he stated.

“ZRA will therefore work, at all times, within its mandate, with the security wings of the government to ensure accountability regarding the payment of the correct taxes.”

And investigators also interrogated former permanent Secretary in the Ministry of tourism Peter Mumba but no details about his probe were disclosed.

The investigators queried Mumba for about one hour.

When asked about his questioning, Mumba said what he was discussing with the investigators:

“We were discussing matters of the nation. It’s too early to disclose what we discussed. The word ‘summoned’ is a very strong word, I was just asked to come. It’s too early to say. The discussion went extremely well and I am very happy,” said Mumba.


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