The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has stopped investigations into Inspired Computer Technology Consultants (ICTC) contract to supply over 800 000 textbooks for junior secondary schools.
The development has also prompted Attorney General Charles Mhango to write Treasury, authorising payment to ICTC.
This follows a directive, three weeks ago, from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to Secretary to Treasury, to stop payment to ICTC until the firm is cleared by ACB.
ICTC was being investigated on allegations that it had used a fraudulent bank guarantee letter in one of the transactions with a South African publisher.
In an e-mail response, ACB spokesperson Egritta Ndala confirmed stopping investigations on the matter.
“The bureau handed over the case to Fiscal Police early in the investigation after it realised that the Fiscal Police was also investigating the same matter and did so in order not to duplicate efforts and save public resources. The information gathered in the course of the investigation indicated that the matter is to do with fraud and forgery, which are the mandate of the Fiscal Police,” she said.
But a letter we have seen from the Attorney General to Secretary to Treasury authorises payment to ICTC on the understanding that ACB no longer has a case with the firm.
“I have now received the copy of the letter…from the Anti-Corruption Bureau advising Secretary for Education, Science and Technology that the ACB is no longer investigating this matter and that this matter was referred to the fiscal and fraud section of the Malawi Police Service for Investigation.
“The ACB has confirmed that at the time of stopping their investigations, the ACB did not establish any corrupt behaviour on the part of the supplier—ICTC. I also wish to bring to your attention that by a letter dated March 6 2018, the officer-in-charge of Fiscal Police to your good office, the Malawi Police Service confirmed that they closed their investigations and did not establish any fraudulent action nor wrong-doing by the supplier, ICTC,” reads part of the letter dated March 27 2018, which also requests Treasury to make full payment to ICTC to avoid landing government into legal problems with the supplier.
In an interview, Mhango confirmed authoring the letter we have seen, adding that there was no reason for holding payment after the ACB stopped the investigation.
Mhango said the AfDB condition, which demanded that payment should only be made after ICTC has been cleared by the ACB, has been met hence authorising Treasury to make payment.
“It is true I wrote that letter advising Treasury to honour payment because both ACB and Fiscal Police have no case against the supplier and we are under obligation to make payment as per contract agreement. Failure to do so may land us into legal disputes, and government may lose out,” he said in a telephone interview last Thursday.
When contacted, National Police deputy spokesperson Thomeck Nyaude refused to comment, saying he was out of office and referred us to the head of Fiscal Police, a Mr. Norman, who declined to grant an interview, saying only the public relations office is allowed to do that.
When asked to confirm if they have dropped their investigations or cleared ICTC of wrongdoing, Norman maintained that he would only speak through the PRO. National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said he is on holiday, hence it would not be proper for him to grant an interview.
Efforts to talk to Secretary to Treasury Ben Botolo proved futile as we went to press.n