UPDATE: Liato spends night in police cell

Posted: November 30, 2011 in News
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Hong Kong, Nov.30– A Zambian former minister who stashed close to US$420 million in an electrified underground bunker has spent his first night in a police cell.

Liato (l) served as Banda's (r) labour minister. PHOTO: postzambia.com

Austin Liatio was detained at Lusaka’s Woodlands Police Tuesday after investigators recorded a statement from him.

He presented himself before a team of investigators in a flashy flowery beach shirt and walking stick – a scene onlookers likened to a mafia dress code.

Making his first appearance in public since his buried treasure was dug-out last Thursday, Liato – a self-made ‘money grower’- looked reserved and showed no apprehension.

A crack taskforce investigating alleged mismanagement of public resources during ex-president Rupiah Banda’s three year rule, questioned Liato before holding him overnight at a police detention facility in the poshy residential area of Woodlands.

“Mr. Liato is yet to be charged,” Elizabeth Kanjela, a spokesperson for police said. “Investigations are still ongoing.”

Liato is being investigated for concealing a huge amount of money in two metal safes at his farming grounds, west of Lusaka.

He faces money laundering, profiteering and tax evasion charges and could face a long jail term if found guilty.

The new Zambian leader, Michael Sata, has warned that his administration will prosecute any offenders found to have mismanaged state resources – a move his critics have described as witch-hunting.

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