The German embassy in Lilongwe has rejected a ‘Press Release’ widely circulating on social media platforms which claims it was purportedly written by German Embassy, saying it did not issue such a statement naming and shaming Cashgaters including implicating President Peter Mutharika and late president Bingu wa Mutharika.
The disputed ‘press release’ also mentioned companies – mostly owned by Malawians of Asian origins- allegedly involved in cashgate, cliaiming they “facilitated externalisation of the fraudulent funds” on behalf of the President Mutharika and late Bingu wa Mutharika.
It also claimed “kickbacks” were paid “in billions of Malawi Kwachas” to cabinet ministers including Finance and Economic Development Minister Goodall Gondwe and Minister of Agriculture George Chaponda.
Also implicated is Minister of Civic Education and Community Development Patricia Kaliati, Minister of Labour Henry Mussa and Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale.
But when Nyasa Times verified with the German Embassy on the authenticity of the statement, it denied issuing it.
“The quoted press release has not been issued by the German Embassy,” Thomas Staiger, Deputy Head of Mission told Nyasa Times, responding to a questionnaire.
Staiger , who is also Head of Development Cooperation German Embassy in Malawi, said the forensic audit to Malawi grand corruption was led and management by the National Audit Office (NAO), supported jointly by a consortium of Development Partners (EU Delegation, Germany, Ireland, Norway, United Kingdom) assisting the Government of Malawi in its public financial and economic management reform efforts.
“NAO has submitted findings from the audit to the respective authorities in line with the Public Audit Act,” Staiger.
“Since we are not involved in the investigation we are not in a position to comment on ongoing procedures. However we remain concerned by the breadth and depth of corruption revealed by the current audit work,” he said.
The German diplomat added: “We welcome President Mutharika’s commitment to zero-tolerance on corruption, and we trust the Malawian authorities will step-up their efforts to bring those responsible for defrauding the Malawian people to justice.”
The revelations indicated that 13 companies, registered local in Malawi and abroad, have been named as key suspects in the latest audit report.
The companies allegedly swindled the government of K14 billion as established in the findings of an audit undertaken by UK-based RSM Risk Assurance Service LLP, formerly known as Baker Tilly.
The statement mentioned Zune Salter of Top Prima and Rummage Pace who was cleared by the office of the Attorney-General.
Also named is Abdul Karim Batatawala, three of whose companies are on the list.
Batatawala’s companies listed for further investigations are Africa Commercial Agencies, Gratolite General Dealers and Kasco Enterprises.
Other companies under investigation are:
- Clarkson Resources Ltd, owned by Jenhonatan Ben Zeev and registered in the British Jersey Islands (this company is also listed in the Panama Papers – a cache of documents of companies evading tax by registering offshore);
- Fargo Limited – locally registered in 1975 – and owned by Abdul Rashid Jakhura, Arif Rashid Jakhura, Aamir Rashid Jakhura, Danish Rashid Jakhura and Pappa Srinivasa Rao;
- Einstein Construction – registered in Malawi in September 1998 and owned by Kenneth Knight Khonje;
- Tradewings Worldwide Limited – registered in the United Kingdom and owned by Samir Haresh Parikh, Nitinkumar Ramanlal Patel and three others; and
- Genex Export CC – registered in South Africa in April 1981 and owned by Graham Hodges.
And also writing on the same Wise One from the East under Garvey Karvei Publications said Treasury is powerless on the matter.
He writes that, responding to a question emailed him, Secretary to the Treasury Dr Ronald Mangani said: “Treasury is currently in consultations with other government officials to determine the best way forward on the contents of the forensic audit report.”
Mangani did not give specific timelines for recovering the money or ensuring that the suppliers in question have been taken to task, raising fears that the K577 billion audit will again be buried under the carpet.
The Auditor-General handed over the 13 case files to the Anti-Corruption Bureau which, said it needs time to “investigate.”
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