Malawi’s Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) has directed the country’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to institute investigations on the Budget Director Paul Mphwiyo and the Accountant General David Kandoje over reports of massive fraud that is believed to have seen millions of kwachas being illegally drawn from government accounts.
Reports have been making rounds recently and following the shooting of Mphwiyo last week that several senior government officials including ministers with the assistance of the Budget Director and the Accountant General have been illegally drawing huge sums of money from government a development that is suspected to be at the centre of the shooting after a deal went sour.
Source within the Malawi Government confided to Nyasa Times that following the revelation President Joyce Banda through the OPC directed that the ACB has to specifically investigate the two top officials as a way of getting at the bottom of the issue.
Mphwiyo and Kandoje are believed to have been the main officers at the centre of fraudulent cheque encashment of huge sums of money from government coffers.
“There are a lot of issues coming out and connected to the two offices hence the directive so that probably government can know what has been really going on,” said the source.
ACB spokesperson Egrita Ndala in an interview with one of the country’s daily The Nation confirmed that there is an on going probe in the civil service but declined to go into details as to who the probe is directed at.
Ndala also denied that the ACB got instructions to institute the investigations from the OPC.
“The ACB has been conducting investigations in relation to corrupt practices in the public service. This (has) been going on for some time now,” said Ndala.
On the specific probe on Mphwiyo and Kandoje, she also declined to go into details arguing that investigation requires some sense of confidentiality for it to be conducted objectively and professionally and divulging more information would jeorpadise the investigation process.
“Suffice to say that it is progressing well. There are some people who have been arrested following the investigation some of them as reported to the media last week,” said Ndala.
In a separate interview OPC Public Relations Officer Arthur Chipenda also denied that the OPC issued such directive to the ACB.
“The ACB takes up matters to investigate independently without any instruction or direction from the Government,” said Chipenda.
On September 19 the ACB announced the arrest of two public officers after it received a complaint 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 two, currently on bail are Robert Nantchito a then Accounts Accounts Assistant in the Ministry of Lands but now working with Ministry of Trade and Industry and Alice Namata a Principal administrative Officer in the Ministry of Wildlife and Tourism.
The ACB said the investigation revealed that Nantchito entered payment vouchers amounting to K11, 598513.43 and K8,203,518.86 in favour of two companies that did not supply any goods or services to the Ministry of Lands.
The two companies are Khanye Investiments belonging to Maxwell and Alice Namata and Hannet Enterprises belonging to Hunter Kavinya.
The investigations also found that Robert Nantchito tampered with financial information from government’sIntegrated Financial Information Management System (IFMIS) amounting to K73, 355,924.27.
Soon after Mphwiyo’s shooting two weeks ago government said he was targeted because of his fight against corruption and fraud, although some circles have connected the shooting to some fraudulent activities involving millions of moneys being withdrawn from government accounts through his office and that of the Accountant General.
The fraudulent activities also touch on people taking advantage of the weaknesses in the IFMIS.
Mphwiyo is currently still Milpark Hospital in South African where he is getting treatment.
The incident was also followed by an announcement by the Treasury Departmaent that it has further tightened controls over the IFMIS payment system.
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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