High Court stops ‘Cashgate’ buses disposal

The High Court in Lilongwe has dismissed the plea by Malawi government to release  the six buses suspected to have been bought using Capital Hill Cashgate exploits at about K520 million (US$1 277 641.3) by Ministry of Tourism.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Bruno Kalemba filed to the court the proposal to release of  the 65-seater Scania Marcopolo Torino buses supplied by Automotive Products Limited (APL), the local franchise dealer for Scania. They were procured by the ministry’s chief tourism officer Leonard Karonga.

The Ministry of Tourism disowned the buses.

But in its determination on Thursday, the Justice Fiona Mwale dismissed the State’s application as “immature” because the trial has not yet started.

The impounded buses
The impounded buses

The State asked the court that the six Scania Marcopolo Torino buses fraudulently purchased in the name of Ministry of Tourism using government money be disposed of by the State.

The prosecutors argued that if the buses stay idle for a long time, they may develop some problems or deteriorate. They submitted that the law allows disposal of perishable goods even when the matter is not yet concluded.

But Justice Mwale dismissed the application.

Karonga, who was first arrested on October 17 last year by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ABC) for allegedly conniving with different people to defraud government, was charged with money laundering and theft by public servant.

Forensic auditors from a British auditing firm, Baker Tilly, established that K13.6 billion was looted at Capital Hill between April and September last year.

The Cashgate scandal led to the budgetary aid freeze by the country’s major donors and several social services by government are suffering including medical care.

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