UK cautions Malawi against exposing names in cashgate audit

The British Government has warned the Malawi Government against making public names of people and organisations mentioned in the forensic audit report saying doing so may prejudice any current or future legal action.

The British Government funded the forensic audit report into the looting of public funds at the Capital Hill, the government’s seat.

The report, which was conducted by Baker Tilly International and found that about K13.6 billion was stolen from government coffers, was released a few days ago but without names of individuals and firms involved in the scam.

Nevin: Releasing names now would be premature
Nevin: Releasing names now would be premature

But the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Malawi Police Service (MPS) and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) were given the full report (with names) to compare against their ongoing investigations.

Malawians have described the report as a “disgrace” and have asked authorities to reveal the names of those involved in order to make the report a complete one.

However, the British High Commissioner to Malawi, Michael Nevin has said much as his country is concerned with the level of corruption revealed in the report, revealing the names would not be the best option.

“Releasing names now would be premature and may jeopardize the evidence trails. As the independent auditors stated in their report, releasing names may also prejudice any current or future legal action.

“The report is now the ownership of the Auditor General and it is the ultimate decision of the Malawi authorities to decide how to progress in line with the Laws of Malawi,” said Nevin in a statement issued Friday and made available to Nyasa Times.

He said London remained deeply concerned by the breadth and depth of corruption revealed in the report which is clear that ordinary Malawians have ultimately paid the price.

“The UK agreed to fund the independent audit to help identify the full extent of the corruption allegations and bring to account all those who were involved.

“As the forensic audit report makes clear, the auditors and other investigators have not completed their work. Investigations are still in progress and continuing. The aim is to identify the full extent of the scandal, identify all the beneficiaries and attempt to recover lost funds,” said Nevin in the statement.

He said it was clear the losses would not have been uncovered without the determination of the government but the findings are so serious that the Joyce Banda administration must now take urgent action to bring the culprits to justice and restore confidence in its finances.

The report contains 62 recommendations on various measures to be introduced within the government financial management systems to prevent similar cases from happening in future and Nevin said “we encourage debate and action on those recommendations to stop a recurrence of these problems in the future.”

On Thursday, the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (PAC) rejected the report describing it as incomplete and a mere “cover up scheme.”

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