Three employees of State produce trader, Admarc, have been suspended on suspicion of defrauding the organisation of K5.7 million (about $19 000) allegedly through inflated wages, especially for casual labourers.
According to a source within the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc), an internal audit uncovered the K5.7 million fraud at the companyâ€™s regional office for the South allegedly involving wages clerk Awirindiwo Kananji, regional accountant Stewart Ngundende and regional information technology (IT) officer Blazio Namulewa.
The source alleged that between March 2010 and April 2011, the trio was conniving to, among other things, prepare payment for ghost workers and also produce duplicate inflated wages report every month that was being used to draw extra cash.
â€œThis case was first discovered by an officer at Admarc head office while doing monthly accounts reconciliations and after which he reported to the director of finance on 16th July 2012,â€ says the source in a written communication to The Nation, adding: â€œWhen the auditors did their investigation, it was confirmed that the three officers had embezzled money amounting close to K5.7 million over the said period but no action was taken on them.â€
The source alleges that during the period the crime is suspected to have occurred, the regional office wage bill was increased by an average of K400 000 (about $1 333) per month which made the general ledger less than the actual cash being disbursed for wages and unable to balance.
â€œIt is this imbalancing of the ledger that led to the discovery of the fraud and during the preliminary investigations, it was discovered that the wages clerk Awirindiwo Kananji destroyed all the printed reports, including the signature listings relating to the period in question and IT officer Mr Blazio Namulewa deleted all wages files in the computer and it had to take head office computer section to install back up files and print duplicate reports for the audit to be concluded,â€ says the whistle blower.
In a written response to a questionnaire on the issue, Admarc public relations officer Agnes Chikoko confirmed the development. She said the matter was being handled by a disciplinary committee and that the suspects were suspended to allow for investigations.
Said Chikoko: â€œThe issue of alleged fraud of K5.7 million involving Regional Accounts Office South is currently being handled by Internal Disciplinary Committee. The members involved are on suspension to pave the way for further investigation. Therefore, there should be no fear of information being destroyed.â€
In another development, the source alleged that new Admarc chief executive officer Dr Jerry Jana authorised the sale of more than 5 000 metric tonnes of maize to several companies who do not have any distribution outlets.
The source further alleges that after noting that his decision to sale maize might be questioned in the wake of the looming hunger, Jana gave a contract to J & F Enterprises to supply 10 000 metric tonnes which was currently being sourced from Zambia.
But in response, Chikoko said the idea to dispose of the 5 000 metric tonnes of maize was a business decision made with the view of generating income for the company.
â€œThe sale of 2008/2009 carry over maize stocks was a business decision for Admarc to generate income as the maize had been carried over for a long time and was incurring huge fumigation costs but also losing quality. The decision was either to lose the maize all together or sale and recover costs,â€ she said.