Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu has ruled out offering amnesty to perpetrators of corruption saying all those who perpetrate the evil are brought to book – including seven Cabinet ministers alleged to be mentioned in the files of forensic audit involving the looting of K236 billion from government coffers between 2009 and 2014.
Tembenu said on Wednesday when handed over two buses recovered through Cashgate investigations to Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) and Malawi University of Science Technology (MUST).
He said there would be no sacred cows in the fight against corruption in the country and that government is committed to conclude all remaining cases of Cashgate as quickly as possible in order to close the Cashgate episode in Malawi.
“We are witnessing the happy ending to one of the tragic results of Cashgate; money was stolen from the public purse and was used to procue six buses. Today, we want to return to the public what truly belongs to them,” said the Justice Minister.
Tembenu said President Peter Mutharika has on several occasions assured the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) of his support, that there will be no sacred cows, and he has encouraged the staff to prosecute any person who took part in the plunder of government finances.
But ACB director general Lucas Kondowe told reporters in Lilongwe that Auditor General Stepheson Kamphasa only presented the 13 files on the K236 billion cashgate and no minister was mentioned in the said files.
Source at the National Audit Office say ministers are fingured in ther larger dossier which has been kept under wraps.
According to Kondowe, the 13 files the ACB had reviewed, did not include work to determine if at all the payments represent legitimate delivery of goods and services contracted.
He said they were detailing payments of K17.1 billion that was made to the companies by the Malawi Police Services (MPS) and Malawi Defence Force (MDF).
Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) vice-chairperson Kamlepo Kalua fears that there was a cover-up being planned on the role of the ministers.
Kalua, who is also Rumphi East lawmaker, said government is using national security to shield Cabinet ministers alleged to have been implicated by the forensic investigations.
ACB last year also cleared two companies from involvement in Cashgate, but indicated it would still investigate whether any crime was committed through overpricing.
Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale said payments were “Okayed” by his office.
“Government normally does not buy from a source. It buys from middlemen who usually quote their prices higher,” he said.
The shooting of former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo in September 2013 led to revelations of the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill.
Former president Joyce Banda ordered an audit which British forensic auditor Baker Tilly undertook. It established that between April and September 2013 about K24 billion was siphoned from public coffers through dubious payments, inflated invoices and goods or services never rendered.
In May last year, a financial and audit advisory firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) also established that about K577 billion in public funds could not be reconciled between 2009 and December 2014. The figure has been reduced to K236 billion.
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