The Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale has stopped the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), National Audit Office (NAO) and the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) from releasing names of companies and businesspersons implicated in the K230 billion Cashgate report.
The legal opinion was requested by NAO following a raging public debate on whether the names of the companies should be released to the public after auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) analysed financial transactions in government between 2009 and 2014.
Kaphale confirmed in an interview yesterday handing over a legal opinion to the three institutions, but declined to give details of the contents.
“You know my golden rule as a lawyer on these matters is that I don’t give details of my legal opinions to the media. Contact any of these institutions for details of the legal opinion,” said Kaphale.
ACB director Lukas Kondowe confirmed receiving the opinion from Kaphale, saying the AG has asked the institutions not to publish the names as government is yet to verify any wrongdoing on part of the implicated companies.
“I can confirm receiving the advice. Basically, the AG says government institutions should be mindful that these companies could sue government in the event that the names are published and no wrongdoing is found,” said Kondowe.
Quizzed on reports that the 13 files the bureau has received include names of ministers implicated by the audit, Kondowe dismissed the assertions as baseless.
Kondowe’s remarks come amid speculation that some members of the Peter Mutharika-led Cabinet are implicated in the forensic audit with the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament vowing to expose the ministers and push for their prosecution.
Yesterday, PAC’s outspoken vice-chairperson Kamlepo Kalua said he was yet to receive the legal opinion and reserved comment on the matter while Auditor General Stephenson Kamphasa was reportedly outside the country when Nation on Sunday wanted him to comment on the matter.
Meanwhile, ACB has said it is yet to analyse the 13 files it has received from the AG on the K230 billion Cashgate.
In a separate written response, Kondowe said the bureau is, however, expected to embark on investigations shortly once clarifications have been made.
But Kondowe fell short of citing the exact areas the bureau is seeking clarifications on and avoided questions on the issue of the allegations against the ministers.