The National Economic Empowerment Fund (Neef) Limited, formerly Malawi Enterprise Development Fund (Medf), has fired four senior managers, including chief executive officer Mervis Mangulenje following a disciplinary hearing prompted by an audit that exposed alleged abuse.
Mangulenje has been summarily dismissed alongside head of credit Edwin Visabwe, head of operations Alexon Mwakhula and head of f inance Hilar ious Namp o t a . But the fired officers were not implicated both in the initial audit report and in the follow-up special investigation report dated November 20 2020.
In an interview yesterday, Neef board chairperson Cornelius Majawa confirmed that a disciplinary hearing comprising some members of the audit team and staff from human resource (HR) met on January 21 2020 and resolved to dismiss the four.
He said: “The officers were all given their letters of dismissal and, so far, only one of them has written us that the officer will be appealing the dismissal. According to our policy, the dismissed officers have up to Wednesday [today] to lodge an appeal.”
Whe n c ontacted yesterday, Mangulenje refused to speak on her next course of action and simply said: “No comment.”
The fired senior managers had earlier obtained a court injunction restraining the Neef board from summoning them to a disciplinary hearing. However, Neef later vacated the injunction in the High Court of Malawi.
A special audit report at Neef exposed deep-rooted rot where officers allegedly gave loans to their spouses, ex-spouses, relatives and friends.
The investigation conducted from August 3 2020 to September 25 2020 by the government’s Central Internal Audit Unit (Ciau), uncovered what the report calls “a criminal syndicate” involving officers from various departments at the Neef head office in Lilongwe and Liwonde branch in Machinga.
At least 21 Neef employees were implicated and arrested in connection with fraud and forgery, but are out on bail.
The syndicate, according to the report, allegedly defrauded Neef K53.3 million through loan disbursements to fraudulent beneficiaries, but it was expected the amount would go up.
The report established that the sampled fraudulent loan beneficiaries from Lilongwe gave false information of where they came from and preferred to indicate they were from Phalombe, Thyolo and Mulanje districts.
The report further said some officers deleted from Neef database documents and e-mails allegedly to destroy evidence of fraud, with one officer deleting all e-mails for the month of June 2020.