The State has described Cashgate convict Maxwell Namata as one of the masterminders of the alleged looting of K2.4 billion involving former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo and 18 other suspects.
Through his lawyer Michael Goba Chipeta, Namata has asked the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal to exempt him from prosecution in the Mphwiyo and others’ case, arguing that he was already convicted and sentenced on a similar offence.
But Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale yesterday submitted in appeal judge Lovemore Chikopa’s chamber that the offences are different and that the convict played different roles.
The DPP told The Nation in an interview outside the courtroom that the argument by the defence that the two cases were one and the same does not hold because the convict played the role of a ‘professional planner’ in the K2.4 billion Cashgate case.
She said: “We submitted before the court that just like the way London bombings [of July 2005] happened, there were certain terrorists at the high level planning to bomb London. There were those planning and others who executed the plans.
“One planner decided to bomb one city that he didn’t like while the others bombed several suburbs using different people.
“What Namata is saying is that we should not charge him at different levels of the operation because we will make him look like a professional terrorist.”
Kachale alleged that the evidence the State has shows that the convict was the one who recruited his accomplice, Luke Kasamba, among others, apart from playing different roles.
According to the DPP, the convict cannot be tried together with Kasamba in the K2.4 billion case because of the “complex criminal operation” he played in the looting of the money.
On February 16 2015, Namata and Kasamba were handed eight and five years custodial sentences, respectively, after being found guilty on two counts of theft and money laundering contrary to Section 35(1)( c ) of Money Laundering, Proceeds of Serious Crime and Terrorist Financing Act for the amount of K24 179 120.70.
During yesterday’s hearing, the defence insisted that the action by the State is an abuse of the court process and has to be stopped pending a determination by the court.
The judge has reserved his ruling to a date to be communicated.
In November 2015, the convict made an appeal to the court against his conviction and sentencing by the High Court in Lilongwe. He argued that it was based on unfounded evidence. The court is yet to make a ruling on the appeal case for conviction and sentencing.
In the Mphwiyo case, Namata and others are facing charges of fraud, negligence by public officer, money laundering and theft by public servant and conspiracy to defraud government K2 446 817 450 .49.
Mphwiyo’s shooting outside the gate of his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe on the night of September 13 2013 led to revelations of the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill widely known as Cashgate.
Former President Joyce Banda ordered a forensic audit undertaken by British firm, Baker Tilly, covering the period between April and September 2013. The audit established that about K24 billion was siphoned from the 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 reconciled between 2009 and December 31 2014.
However, the K577 billion figure was later revised downwards to K236 billion by another British forensic auditor. n