18 May 2017

Malawi: DPP Kachale Describes Convict Namata As Masterminder of K2.4bn 'Cashgate'

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale has told Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal that Cashgate convict Maxwell Namata was one of the masterminders of the K2.4 billion looting in government in a case involving former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo and 18 other suspects.

Namata, a former civil servant, was sentenced to consecutive custodial sentences of three years and five years for theft and money laundering respectively.

But he applied to the court to be exempted from prosecution in a K2.4 billion in the Mphwiyo case

Namata and others are facing charges of fraud, negligence by public officer, money laundering and theft by public servant and conspiracy to defraud government funds amounting to K2 446 817 450.49.

Through his lawyer Michael Goba Chipeta, Namata is arguing that he was already convicted and sentenced on a similar offence.

But Kachale submitted in appeal judge Lovemore Chikopa's chamber that the offences are different and that Namata played different roles.

She is arguing that the evidence the State has shows that Namata was the one who recruited his accomplice, Cashgate convict Luke Kasamba, among others.

Justice Chikopa has reserved his ruling to a later date to be communicated.

Apparently, the arrest of accounts assistant Victor Sithole - currently serving nine years in jail with hard labour for his part in the K24 billion ($53.3 million) "cashgate" corruption scandal - in August 2013 kick-started what became known as the "cashgate" affair - the worst financial scandal in the country's history.

It became public knowledge a month later following the shooting of Mphwiyo g outside the gate of his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe on the night of September 13 2013.

Former President Joyce Banda ordered a forensic audit undertaken by British firm, RSM (formerly Baker Tilly), covering the period between April and September 2013. The audit established that about K24 billion was siphoned from the public coffers through dubious payments, inflated invoices and goods or services never rendered.

In May 2015, a financial analysis report by audit and business advisory firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) also established that about K577 billion in public funds could not be reconciled between 2009 and December 31 2014.

However, the K577 billion figure was later revised downwards to K236 billion by another British forensic auditor.

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