Cashgate report out, goes to Malawi Parliament

A preliminary forensic audit outlining how public resources were plundered between April and September 2013 is expected to be presented to Parliament on Monday February 24, Nyasa Times understands.

The London-based accountancy firm Baker Tilly International said the draft report was issued to the Auditor General on 14 February 2014, but were now working on additional comments and evidence which the Auditor General had previously requested.

The legislature has since received communication from government to begin preparing for meetings of the parliamentary Public Affairs Committee (PAC) to scrutinise the ‘cashgate’ report.

“I can now confirm that the report is in the hands of Ministry of Finance,” said government spokesperson Brown Mpinganjira. “The ministry of finance received the report yesterday, Friday [from British forensic auditors] at around 4 p.m.,” he said.

But Mpinganjira told a local radio station that the contents of the report would still not be made public until it was presented to parliament.

Mpinganjira: “I can now confirm that the report is in the hands of Ministry of Finance
Mpinganjira: “I can now confirm that the report is in the hands of Ministry of Finance
Speaker Chimunthu Banda:  To call PAC meeting to discuss the report
Speaker Chimunthu Banda: To call PAC meeting to discuss the report

“We shall present the report to parliament first. But I suspect that we shall find a way of talking to the people on Malawi [on the report’s findings]. I doubt that it is in the interest of anybody for the people to wait until parliament reconvenes,” said Mpinganjira.

Speaker of Parliament Chimunthu Banda said once the report reaches Parliament, “We will immediately call for meeting of PAC.”

Baker Tilly’s Director assured that the report will not be externally influenced.

“We should stress that our report has not and will not be externally influenced,” he said.

Mpinganjira also allayed fears that government officials and politicians involved in the scam would doctor the report because the British Government, which funded the process would also release the report in future.

“It should be understood that the British Government is responsible for sponsoring the forensic audit report and as such before the findings are released to the Malawi Government it shall first be submitted to the British Government and later copied to the Government of Malawi,” explained Mpinganjira.

The  cashgate investigations has led to arrest of over 60 people both from the civil service and private sector. Most of them are accused of obtaining money from government without rendering any services.

The British auditors behind the report said on Thursday they have new evidence and information connected to the Cashgate necessitated further delay for its release.

Meanwhile, Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has said  is separately investigating and monitoring trends in President Banda and government’s efforts to ensure justice is done in the ongoing probe and prosecution of cashgate cases.

Chairperson Sophie Kalinde said in  MHRC has resolved to embark on a “comprehensive assessment of the impact of cashgate on the performance of Government’s human rights obligations”

And the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) and National Democratic Institute (NDI) research findings suggest that cashgate is an election issue likely to work against President Banda’s first presidential election test.

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