The Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court yesterday refused to grant bail to four Cashgate suspects, including former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo, saying it has no mandate.
The court has since committed the case to the High Court.
Besides Mphwiyo who was arrested on Saturday, the three others charged with seven counts include Auzius Kazombo Mwale, Clemence Mmadzi and Roosevelt Ndovi. There are also three others linked to the case.
The four are jointly being accused of defrauding about K2.4 billion in 2013 through various businesspersons without rendering services or providing goods to the Government of Malawi.
The four, who are being represented by separate lawyers, told the court that it was unfair and unnecessary for the State to re-arrest them as the State has already a case against them.
Their lawyers took turns to plead with the court that the case was not new.
For example, lawyer representing Ndovi argued why his client had to be re-arrested almost three times on the same case.
“This is a pity and tribulation on the part of my client who has been arrested three times already. I feel this trial is unnecessary,” he said.
Private practice lawyer Powel Nkhutabasa asked the courts to be lenient on his client Auzius Kazombo Mwale who is a sick person.
But State lawyer Dennis Chipao said the charges have been amended and that the suspects are still within the 48-hour bail rule.
He said: “This has been a practice that matters of this type are committed to the High Court and it is only the court that can decide bail applications. Further to this, the matter will appear in the High Court on Wednesday and we believe it is where bail applications can be made. We simply brought this case here for committal.”
Senior resident magistrate Chisomo Msokera committed the matter to the High Court forthwith.
Mphwiyo, David Kandoje, Kazombo Mwale, Mmadzi, George Banda, Michela Mphatso, Samuel Mzanda and Maxwell Namata are facing charges of fraud, negligence by public office, money laundering, theft by public servant, theft by servant and conspiracy to defraud government amounting to K2 446 817 450.49.
Mphwiyo’s shooting at the gate of his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe on September 13 2013 is believed to have revealed the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill commonly called Cashgate.
Former president Joyce Banda ordered an audit which British forensic auditor, Baker Tilly, undertook between April and September 2013 and established that about K24 billion was siphoned from public coffers through dubious payments, inflated invoices and goods or services never rendered.
In May this year, 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. n