Maxwell Namata arrested: Another suspect in Malawi public service fraud

Malawi’s graft-busting body Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Monday arrested Maxwell Namata , a third suspect involved in a syndicate stripping finances from  government  through illegal encashment of cheques using companies that did not supply any goods or services as authorities urged immigration officials to step up vigilance against suspicious travellers.

ACB confirmed in a statement made available to Nyasa Times about the arrest of Namata, who owns Khanye Investments together with his wife Alice. His wife Alice Namata was also arrested by ACB a fortnight ago but was freed on bail.

Namata was reportedly arrested at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in the capital city Lilongwe. He is said to have jetted in the country recently and was picked he tried to fly out of the country.

In a statement, ACB spokesperson Egrita Ndala  said Namata has been arrested on the following charges: “Corrupt Performance of functions by a public officer; abuse of office; theft by a person employed in the public service; (and) Obstructing officers of the ACB.”

Namata: Suspect, arrested
Namata: Suspect, arrested

Ndala said the ACB were interested to interrogate Namata and that he would be released on bail.

She added that arrest of Namata followed complaints received by the bureau in October 2011, alleging that an officer from the Accountant General’s office was conniving with Malawi Police Service officers to corruptly defraud government of huge sums of money.

“The Anti-Corruption Bureau instituted investigations which found that Maxwell Namata Principal Accountant in the Ministry of Lands now with Ministry of Labour authorized several payments to be made in favour of Khanye Investiments belonging to Maxwell and Alice Namata for goods and services which were not supplied to Ministry of Lands,” she said.

Khanye Investments is connected to the illegal payments which were done after  another suspect Robert Natchito who is also currently on bail, is alleged to have entered payments vouchers in favour of two companies that did not supply any goods to the Ministry of Lands as indicated on the vouchers.

The other company involved is Hannet Enterprises which belongs to Hunter Kavinya and it is alleged that the payment vouchers amount to K11, 598513.43 and K8,203,518.86.

Nantchito worked as an Accounts Assistant in the Ministry of Lands but is now working with Ministry of Trade and Industry while Alice Namata is a Principal administrative Officer in the Ministry of Wildlife and Tourism.

According to the ACB, the investigations also found that Nantchito tampered with financial information from Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) amounting to K73, 355,924.27.

ACB’s arrests of the three suspects  comes  after  the shooting  of Budget Director in the Ministry of Finance Paul Mphwiyo  three weeks ago.

Mphwiyo , was shot three times by unknown assailants a recently  as he was entering his residence which is located in Area 43, Lilongwe.

His shooting has caused stir and others suspects he was shot because he has been discharging his duties of controlling funds in the ministry of finance perfectly.

President Joyce Banda said Mphwiyo, currently receiving medical treatment at Milpark Hospital in South Africa, was on the verge of busting a corruption ring.

Soon after Mphwiyo’s shooting Treasury Department announced that it has further tightened controls over the IFMIS payment system. The new measures come just a month after also government announced some reforms to the IFMIS.

The new measures include that apart from controlling officers or their designated senior officers all cheques from ministries and government departments should be countersigned by both the Accountant General and the Budget Director or their designated representatives.

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