Malawi: 'Dieselgate' At Nocma - 2m Litres of Diesel Worth K3bn Stolen

"For the interest of justice and restitution, we shall pursue this and all financial crimes to logical conclusion."

Malawi is a crime scene that a day hardly passes without lacking a stomach-turning story of a grand- white collar theft especially from those working in the public service and it has been established that the state-owned National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA) is a criminal syndicate.

NOCMA, a government of Malawi wholly-owned company has yet again been embroidered in theft of two million litres of diesel worth about K3, billion has been stolen between January 2018 and January 2019 with public officer working at the oil company sharing the loot.

The strategic company, NOCMA is involved in fuel importation, storage at strategic fuel reserves and distribution nationwide. It is complemented by Petroleum Importers Limited, a consortium of private sector petroleum trading companies.

The report, which forms part of the forensic audit, divulges that the scam and details how a group of public officers at NOCMA, a company which was formed in line with the National Energy Policy of January 2003 and registered on December 14, 2010 under the Companies Act of 1984, unceremoniously pilfered and shared the litres of fuel.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Dr. Steve Kayuni, who has confirmed the matter, said: "I can confirm that I have received the file."

"At the moment we are looking into the matter and processing a (legal) opinion and move it forward quickly considering that these allegations bordered on financial crimes, which is economic sabotage. In these cases time and speed are of great essence. For the interest of justice and restitution, we shall pursue this and all financial crimes to logical conclusion," Kayuni said.

The damning report, which Nyasa Times has seen, reveals that the money purportedly meant for the fuel was transferred to the said individuals at a rate within the range of K400,000 to K1.5 million per day, using Mpamba and Airtel Money.

During the same period, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) lost two million litres of diesel worth K2.9 billion and it had entered into a contract with Nocma to supply diesel to Aggreko Limited sites, including Kanengo and Kasungu.

Nocma engaged, a transport firm, Rashy motors for the transportation of the fuel.

How the contract was made between NOCMA and Rashy Transport still remains unknown.

The tankers were said to have been dispatched to deliver the cargo to Aggreko sites but according to findings of the investigation, the tankers never appeared in security guard's register at the Aggreko sites.

"Amount of fuel used to produce Kilowatts was by far less than what was recorded as having been used," the report reads, in part.

The investigations report, which was put in place together by a team of investigators from Police, has since been submitted to Capital Hill awaiting instructions and further action.

Lightening strikes only but once, but it appears at NOCMA lightning has strike twice in a very short space of time.

In 2018, Ombudsman, Martha Chizuma also launched an investigation at Escom over the disappearance of millions of litres of fuel meant for diesel powered generators.

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) last year was probing an alleged theft of fuel at National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma) meant for emergency diesel generators at Electricity Supply Corporation Malawi (Escom).

The anti-graft body told the local press that it was moved to probe the alleged fuel theft following a complaint Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) lodged with his office.

According to a letter dated July 28 2018 from HRDC chairperson Gift Trapence to Matemba, which is in Nyasa Times' archives, Nocma went into an agreement with Escom to supply fuel between December 2017 and December 2018 following approval by Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera).

The letter states that while the contract expired in December 2018, Nocma entered into a more expensive contract with Sahara Inc of Egypt for the supply of the fuel, a development that resulted in Nocma making losses.

Reads the letter in part: "To cover for the loss that Nocma made, Nocma forged the approved agreement signed between Escom and Nocma to factor in the loss and thus billed Escom K5 billion."

According to the letter, while Escom was supposed to arrange transportation of the fuel from Nocma to generation sites, Nocma changed the arrangement and started transporting the fuel.

However, the letter indicates that investigations the HRDC conducted show that most of the fuel was never delivered despite paperwork being completed for Escom to effect payment; hence, calling for ACB to probe the matter.

More From: Nyasa Times

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