Defence lawyers yesterday queried the submission of documents by a State witness in the case where two ex-NBS Bank plc employees and a businessperson are accused of defrauding the listed bank in excess of K1 billion.
The three are former NBS Bank accounts officer Goodson Kapalamula, the bank’s former operations manager Victor Banda and Blantyre-based businessperson Dickson Kachingwe. They are standing trial in the High Court of Malawi in Blantyre for the alleged offence committed between 2013 and 2016.
When the court reconvened for continued hearing yesterday, the State paraded its sixth witness, Loveness Jana, who is an investigator at the Fiscal and Fraud Section of the Malawi Police Service.
Jana’s testimony was first interrupted by the defence.
The bone of contention was her submission of bank statements and one of the defence lawyers, Christopher Masanje, said she was not mandated to do so.
He argued that such bank statements could only be tendered in court by a bank officer and not a police officer.
Masanje said: “The case involves and hinges on the use of certain documents, especially bank statements. So, it is a position that those documents can only be tendered by an officer of the bank and not a police officer.”
But the State, through Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Steve Kayuni, counterargued that since the witness obtained a warrant of investigation in her capacity as a police investigator, she was entitled to tender such documents in court.
After a 15-minute adjournment, presiding Judge Dorothy NyaKaunda Kamanga ruled in favour of the State on the basis that it was not mandatory that only an officer of the bank can tender bank statements in court.
Jana proceeded with her testimony and submitted to the court as part of her evidence warrants of investigation, Kachingwe’s refer-to-drawer cheques from various commercial banks and caution statements.
She also submitted pictures of land, sale agreements and trucks that were in the name of Yankho Logistics belonging to Kachingwe allegedly bought using part of the money defrauded from the Malawi Stock Exchange-listed bank.
In her submissions, the police investigator told the court that while Kachingwe exercised his right to remain silent when she was taking caution statements, Kapalamula and Banda denied fraud charges levelled against them.
The court will reconvene at 9am today when the defence will crossexamine Jana.
It is alleged that Kachingwe obtained a same-day value facility fraudulently which allowed the businessperson to cash cheques from bank accounts he held with other commercial banks, but had no funds in the said accounts.