- Claims Interpol cleared her
Immediate past president Joyce Banda yesterday distanced herself from Cashgate, the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill exposed under her watch in 2013, claiming that even the International Police (Interpol) cleared her.
Banda, who returned home on Saturday after a four-year self-imposed exile in the United States of America and South Africa, made the statement in an address at a rally in her home area of Domasi in Zomba.
Banda said Interpol investigated her for nine months and found her clean on the allegations that she was involved in the Cashgate back home. She said Interpol gave her a clearance certificate.
She said: “I just heard that there was a [Malawi] police press release which said I am on Interpol wanted list, but I have a certificate from Interpol.
“When I left [Malawi], there was nobody accusing me of anything. I just went to the UN [United Nations] General Assembly.
“I assure you that I was not involved and I am the one who made the arrests and conducted the forensic audit and the report is a public document.”
The Nation could not independently verify Banda’s claim of Interpol clearance before going to press last night.
Her sentiments followed a Malawi Police Service (MPS) statement last August which claimed there was a warrant of arrest for Banda over her alleged role in Cashgate. The police said the warrant was issued in February 2017.
MPS said it notified Interpol member States about the existence of the warrant of arrest. However, it later transpired Interpol was not aware of the said warrant of arrest.
The Judiciary, which by law signs off warrants of arrest, also denied knowledge of the purported warrant of arrest, saying it did not have records on the magistrate who issued the same.
During the rally she addressed in her capacity as People’s Party (PP) president, Banda deplored hatred, animosity and other problems facing the country.
In 2013, the shooting of former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo outside the gate of his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe led to revelations of the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill.
Banda ordered an audit which British firm, Baker Tilly, undertook covering a randomly selected six-month period between April and September 2013. The audit established that about K24 billion was siphoned from public coffers through dubious payments, inflated invoices and goods or services never rendered.
In May 2015, a financial analysis report by audit and business advisory firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) also established that about K577 billion in public funds could not be reconciliated between 2009 and December 31 2014. The K577 billion figure was later revised downwards to K236 billion in another forensic audit released in 2016.
In December 2015, first Cashgate convict and former principal secretary for Tourism Treza Senzani, who died after her release in October 2016 after serving her three-year sentence, alleged in a witness statement that the highest level of the Juyce Banda administration was involved in Cashgate.
Banda’s rally was also attended by PP vice-presidents Roy Kachale Banda (Eastern Region) and Beatrice Mwale (Central) as well as acting secretary general Ibrahim Matola, among others.
Like she did on arrival on Saturday, she was non-committal on whether she would contest in the 2019 Tripartite Elections.