The National Audit Office (NAO) has requested controlling officers in government ministries to submit documentation to be used in completion of the forensic audit into the fraud and mismanagement of government funds between April and September last year.
It is expected that once the Auditor General has verified documentation from ministries and departments which were not available at the time of the audit, the amount suspected to have been stolen could go down from the current K13 billion (US$30 952 381).
The exercise continues from where British firm Baker Tilly left off in its report which highlighted three aspects of theft, starting with Cashgate amounting to K6.1 billion, payments made without supporting documents amounting to K3.9 billion (US$9 285 714.3) and inflated procurement prices totalling K3.6 billion (US$8 571 429).
NAO corporate communications officer, Thomas Chafunya, confirmed that the Auditor General has started receiving some documentation which was not available during the time of forensic audit due to poor filing in ministries and departments.
Chafunya said the exercise was a normal occurrence because queries arise during public hearings conducted by the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament where the controlling officers are summoned to explain details of findings contained in the Auditor General reports.
“The Auditor General is still receiving some documentation which was not available during the time of audit. These will be verified and if found relevant, will be adjusted to the figures that were earlier indicated. It is a normal practice in audit that the Auditor General goes through the documentation to ascertain its relevance to the query raised and if found authentic, the query is removed,” said Chafunya in a response to a questionnaire.
On the K3.6 billion lost through inflated costs, the Auditor General has since engaged controlling officers to address the issue which NAO suspects occurs when ministries and departments buy goods and services from pre-qualified suppliers who tie-up their prices to the inflation rate or exchange rate.
Meanwhile, the Chief Secretary to the government has warned that controlling officers who fail to cooperate with the Auditor General’s office on the audit investigations would face disciplinary action.
Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) spokesperson Arthur Chipenda said in an interview that the Auditor General has written OPC pertaining to issues raised in the forensic audit report that specifically concern the OPC as an institution and the OPC has already started engaging the Auditor General’s office in tackling the matters.
“The Chief Secretary to the Government, has in the same vein, asked all controlling officers whose ministries and departments are concerned with the findings of the forensic audit to fully cooperate with the Auditor General, so that the verification exercise is concluded expeditiously. The Chief Secretary has undertaken to discipline any controlling officer that does not cooperate with the Auditor General in this exercise,” said Chipenda.
Of the K6 billion (US$14 285 714) cash siphoned through Cashgate means, K3.7 billion was stolen through the Ministry of Tourism, K2.1 billion (US$5 million) from Office of the President and Cabinet, K151 million (US$359 524) from the Ministry of Local Government and K81 million (US$192 857) from a government department that was not known.