Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale told High Court in Lilongwe during the conviction of former chief tourism officer in the Ministry of Tourism, Leonard Kalonga, who pleaded guilty to three counts of money laundering, wrote her office narrating the cashgate scheme.
In plea bargain, Kalonga accepted wrong-doing to three charges of conspiracy to defraud government, facilitating money laundering and offence of money laundering.
The court convicted him on his own plea.
The convict said he was meant to believe that the stealing of K3.7 billion public resources was for to fund the then ruling People’s Party (PP) 2014 tripartite election campaign purposes but never dealt with former president Joyce Banda himself but it was hearsay as he dealt with former budget director, Paul Mphwiyo in swindling government through illegal encashment of government cheques.
“On the involvement of the then Head of State, Dr Joyce Banda, Kalonga had no direct dealings with her,” Kachali told the court.
“Most of what he [Kalonga] knew, he heard from Mphwiyo,” she added.
Kachale told the court: “Mphwiyo informed Kalonga and others that the money he collected was delivered to State House.”
Law experts say ‘hearsay’ is evidence of those who relate, not what they know themselves, but what they have heard from others like Kalonga allegedly heard from Mphwiyo that the stolen money was being routed to State House.
The lawyer explained that judge Fiona Mwale has a discretion to admit hearsay evidence if she feel that it is in the interests of justice to do so and, not doing so would prejudice a party to the proceedings, whether that be the accused or the prosecution.
However, Kalonga stated in his affidavit that on just one occasion, he was present when Oswald Lutepo, another Cashgate convict and kingpin, deliberately put a telephone conversation he was having with then president Banda on speaker phone, the court heard.
“He thus once heard what Lutepo was saying assuring her [the speaker believed to be Joyce Banda] about bringing more money for the campaign,” said Kachale.
Kachale told the court that the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), Accountant General, Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM), Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP) and Treasury are among the top government institutions that were closely involved in the cashgate affair.
Kalonga said Mphwiyo also instructed him to recruit contractors within the construction industry – including convicted Laura Savala – to avoid suspicion when drawing large sums of money.
“Initially the scheme entailed actually requesting for extra funding and production of fake documents to process the payments, but once Mphwiyo became budget director, the modus operandi changed. There was no longer need for the Office of the Director of Public Procurement to issue no objection letters to the department of buildings to issue fake interim completion certificates. It was said that the Accountant General Department was fully on board,” reads the court statement.
Kalonga confessed in court to have bought six Marcopolo buses using public resources amounting to K520 million and the other amounts was sourced through tourism ministry fraudulently.
The court heard that Limbikani Gumbo an employee for Automotive Products where the buses were bought received the K520 million cheque from Kalonga.
The State has entered plea bargain deals with cashgate suspects to pay restitution in a greater amount to the stolen public funds and have lenient sentence.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :