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12 Cashgate suspects have case to answer

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The High Court in Lilongwe has found Cornelius Kaphamtengo and 11 others, the first-ever Cashgate suspects, with a case to answer in all the three counts of conspiracy to defraud the government, theft and money laundering.

Justice Charles Mkandawire yesterday handed down an elaborate judgment giving a picture of how Kaphamtengo, his wife and others conspired, stole and laundered government’s K201,067,003.43 between 2010 and 2011 using five cheques from the Ministry of Disability, the Elderly and Children Affairs.

Mkandawire noted that Kaphamtengo and his wife were used as a front for their company Nova Technologies and General Trading which the suspects used to deposit the cheques which they swiftly withdrew and disbursed to the other suspects.

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“Nova Technologies and General Trading did not deliver any goods or services to the ministry [of Disability, the Elderly and Children Affairs] to warrant payment of five cheques,” Mkandawire said.

He said Conrad Nambala, another suspect in the case was behind the whole scheme of the alleged looting of government money, saying this was why when cheques were cleared, they were immediately shared to the other suspects and Nambala got the lion’s share.

“They even bought a vehicle for Conrad Nambala from Automotive Products. The vehicle was tendered in court as evidence,” he said.

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The judge said the evidence clearly showed that Nambala gave the shots on how the money should be distributed and sometimes he brought the cheques to the banks himself.

“The court cannot go into speculation as to the criteria used as to who would get what but the financial intelligence behaviour gives some hint. Why did the first and second accused (Kaphamtenga and his wife) become very generous to give the money to others whilst they were left with very little money?” asked Mkandawire.

The judge said all but two suspects were working in the accounts departments of the ministry or the Accountant General’s office while one suspect worked for the Ministry of Transport and Public Works and another one was a telephone operator at the ministry.

One of the suspects, Emmanuel Yesaya, was a member of the core team of Integrated Financial Management Systems (Ifms) but took advantage that the ministry was not yet connected to the Ifmis.

The judge said the suspects took advantage that they were in the accounts department, therefore, they could find vouchers, prepare them, write cheques and facilitate the payments.

“They operated like an orchestra. The accused persons were working in concert. That is why they were not surprised where the money was coming from. These were huge sums of money which one would ask where the money was coming from,” he said.

He then found them with a case to answer in all the three counts and hearing of the case is expected to start from August 1 to August 3, 2017.

Meanwhile, the High Court in Lilongwe will decide on whether to hear bail revocation case involving former budget director and K2.4 billion Cashgate suspect Paul Mphwiyo or not.

The prosecution wants Mphwiyo, who is answering the case alongside 18 others, jailed for interfering with state witnesses.

When Mphwiyo’s lawyers and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) team met in Judge Esmie Chombo’s chamber yesterday, the defence asked for more time to look at the application before making its submission.

According to one of the defence lawyers, Shadreck Mhango, the defence received copies of application on Tuesday.

“So, we will meet again on Friday,” Mhango said.

On Friday last week, the State through public prosecutor, Enoch Chibwana, filed a sworn affidavit to the court.

In its application for revocation, the State argued that from around January 2016 to date Mphwiyo has, indirectly or directly, contacted three of the prosecution witnesses, namely Leonard Kalonga, Daniel Jenya and Francis Zhuwawo.

This, according to the State, is despite his being warned in or around January 2016 of the inappropriateness of such an action and being asked to desist from contacting prosecution witnesses.

The State also argued that the contacted witnesses expressed apprehension and the uneasiness was not restricted to their personal safety but the safety of their families.

Despite describing Mphwiyo’s actions as intimidation, the application indicates that no witness has turned hostile since Mphwiyo was asked to desist from contacting prosecution witness.

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