The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has distanced itself from President Joyce Banda’s claims that some “influential people” halted investigations into the fraud discovered in the Malawi Police Service (MPS) and Accountant General’s Department which resulted in the loss of K400 million.
Responding to a questionnaire from The Nation on the matter, ACB senior public relations officer Egrita Ndala said the graft-busting body faced resource constraints which delayed progress of investigations into the case.
She said the fraud has now been discovered to total at least K1 billion (about $2.5m).
Said Ndala in a written response: “But we [ACB] have now made substantial progress leading to the completion of investigations into some components of the Accountant General’s case. The amounts involved are no longer K400 million (about $1m), but in excess of K1 billion.”
During a press conference she addressed last Wednesday on arrival from New York where she attended the United Nations General Assembly, the President said she would revive investigations and prosecution of people involved in the fraud case which she said led to the loss of K450 million (about $1.1m).
She said: “There are reports that the investigations into the K404 million (about $1m) case were stopped by some government officials, and I wish to ask that these investigations resume.”
However, the President did not name anyone. It is a fact, however, that the case happened during the administration of former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika to whom Banda was an estranged Vice-President.
Speaking in an interview yesterday, presidential press secretary Steven Nhlane said he was not aware of specific individuals the President had in mind when she made allegations of interference into the investigations.
But Nhlane said the resource constraints which the ACB mentioned could mean that the scam was not given priority at the bureau.
He said: “This is why the President reinstituted investigations into this case so that all involved are brought to book.”
But Ndala said since investigations resumed, more people have been arrested and have since been charged at the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court.
The five are Hunter Kabvina; Richard Blessings Kapinga who was an accounts clerk at the Accountant General’s Department; Maxwell Namata, who works in accounts at Ministry of Labour; Alice Namata, who works in accounts at Ministry of Tourism, and Robert Nantchito.
The five will face various charges ranging from abuse of office, theft by a public servant and money laundering.
Arrests in the MPS and Accountant General’s Department scam started in 2011 and among the people nabbed were Peter Kambona, an employee of Malswitch, former MPS head of finance Elijah Kachikuwo and a diplomat based in Kuwait, Emmanuel Mazalale. However, the cases are yet to be concluded.