Cashgate convict Leonard Kalonga on Monday told the High Court in Lilongwe that he was not aware that former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo was in United States between August 18 and 28 2013, part of the period he claimed the looting was taking place.
Kalonga—who was convicted of charges of conspiracy to defrauding government, facilitating money laundering and money laundering— is on record telling the court that Mphwiyo and others lured him into the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill.
He is a State witness in the case which Mphwiyo and 17 others are charged with conspiracy to defraud government, holding property belonging to government, theft, money laundering, fraudulently issuing 24 cheques worth K2.4 billion, abuse of public office and usage of proceeds of crime.
When defence lawyer Titus Mvalo quizzed Kalonga in the witness box that the period of August 18 and 28 2013 Mphwiyo was in the US, he said he had no knowledge about that.
“Since you are telling me now, maybe he was in the US,” said Kalonga.
Mvalo said he would want Mphwiyo’s passport which is being held by the State should be released to prove that the former budget director had travelled to US.
The defence lawyer also punched holes in Kalonga’s credibility and oral evidence.
Kalonga was quizzed more on government funding and transactions.
He is on record telling the court that Mphwiyo asked him (Kalonga) and tourism ministry’s chief accountant George Banda to be at the centre of siphoning money out of public coffers.
According to Kalonga, it was Mphwiyo who explained the Cashgate scheme to him and later asked him to sell the idea to people who matter at the Ministry of Tourism.
Kalonga said Mphwiyo also instructed him to recruit contractors within the construction industry 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.
Mvalo asked Kalonga if it was practical for budget director to impose a list of suppliers on a ministry.
“What are the tasks of the budget director? Can somebody from outside impose a vendor on the list,” Mvalo asked Kalonga.
“I wouldn’t know,” said Kalonga on the roles and responsbilities of the budget director.
Mvalo put to Kalonga that any funding above K50 millio requires the approvals of a senior officer beyond the authority of Secretary to the Treasuty and the Minister of Finance.
Kalonga said he could not say if Secretary to Treasury or Finance Minister were involved.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :