A new suspect in the K2.4 billion money laundering case in which former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo is among the accused, IT expert Steve Likhunya-Phiri has been released on bail by High Court in Lilongwe.
Phiri was arrested December 2 2015, is accused number seven among 19 suspects after Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale added him to the case.
Kachale said the 19 people – expected to take plea when the case resumes on February 24 2016 – could not have managed to breach the government financial system and siphon the K2.4 billion over a period of six months without the help of an expert in information technology.
Presiding judge Esme Chombo granted bail to Likhunya-Phiri on condition that he pays a K1.5 million bond, four sureties of K500 000 each and one house, either his or belonging to a relation.
State prosecutor Linesi Chikankheni asked the court that Likhunya-Phiri should disclose the source of the bail bond, which they wanted to be at K1 million.
Likhunya-Phiri’s lawyer, Shadreck Mhango, objected to the condition arguing that it was tantamount to providing the State with self-incriminating information.
In her ruling Judge Chombo quashed the request by the State, saying it was done with ulterior motives to corner the suspect.
“This would be evidence of bad faith on the part of the State,” said Chombo.
Likhunya Phiri is facing similar charges of theft, money laundering and two others similar to Mphwiyo, including civil servants such as former Accountant General David Kandoje, Auzius Kazombo Mwale, Clemence Mmadzi and Roosevelt Ndovi.
The list of suspects also includes contractors.
Others are George Banda, Limumba Karim, Michael Mphatso, Samuel Mzanda and Maxwell Namata who are facing charges of fraud, negligence by public office, money laundering, theft by public servant, theft by servant and conspiracy to defraud government funds amounting to K2 446 817 450.49.
According to DPP Kachale, Likhunya-Phiri was the “ background person” who assisted in breaching and manipulation of the financial systems.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :