Despite clearing them of any wrong-doing in the K236 billion Cashgate, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has instituted fresh investigations on four names mentioned in the illicit siphoning of public funds.
Last March, the graft-busting body released names of five companies ACB cleared in the country’s largest financial scandal, Cashgate, suspected to have occurred between January 2009 and December 2014.
The five cleared companies are Rummage Pace, Top Prime Limited, Malachitte, Chicago Suppliers and Xelite Strips Limited.
ACB director general Reyneck Matemba said at a press conference on Thursday their findings indicated the five companies had valid legal contracts with government and were paid for the services they provided—which was supplying of goods.
Top Prime and Rummage Pace were also mentioned in the initial forensic audit covering the April-September 2013 period but former Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale later cleared their transactions as legitimate.
However, Matemba said they had received fresh information on other allegations that has compelled the bureau to begin a fresh probe into the companies, except Chicago Suppliers.
“We cleared all these companies, but the bureau has received fresh information on other allegations which has necessitated fresh investigations with respect to the four companies,” he explained.
But the director did not elaborate on what information necessitated the fresh probe that is targeting Rummage Pace, Top Prime Limited, Malachitte and Xelite Strips Limited. The companies are part of the 44 firms (out of 50) that were paid K83.5 billion.
From the 44 companies investigations into only 13 files have so far been completed and passed on to the ACB detailing payments to 13 companies from the Malawi Police Services (MPS) and Malawi Defence Force (MDF).
MPS and MDF paid the 13 companies a total of K17.1 billion, representing about 20 percent of the figure the auditors are looking at.
Matemba explained that although the figure was already reduced from K577 billion to K236 billion, forensic auditors believe if further work is done and completed on the cash books and bank statements, the K236 billion will likely be reduced further.
Last year, Auditor General Stephenson Kamphasa told the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) that his office had engaged a forensic audit firm to work on the remaining 37 files alongside his auditors.
Other than the five companies, the institutions investigating the matter have kept a tight lid on the rest of the names mentioned in the files.
Meanwhile, ACB has said the bureau has so far recovered more than K700 million from Cashgate related cases already prosecuted.
“The amount is not concluded as the process of tracing some of the assets is continuing and we hope to recover more after the exercise,” said Matemba.
Some properties were recovered from convicts through the court process after their convictions while other assets were given back to government voluntarily by way of restitution.
For instance, Oswald Lutepo who was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment in September 2015 by Judge Redson Kapindu of the High Court in Zomba, reinstituted property worth over K400 million.
Another convict, now deceased, Tressa Namathanga Senzani, a former principal secretary for Ministry of Tourism, gave back to government K63 million in cash and property while K12 million was recovered from Esnat Nenani Ndovi, who is currently serving a three-year jail term.
Senzani, the first Cashgate convict, was jailed for three years but walked to freedom in October 2016 after serving her sentence. She died three months into her freedom.