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5 arrested over Capital Hill fraud

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Harry Namwaza

Fraud has hit the Accountant General (AG)’s Department in the Ministry of Finance, where accounting personnel have been conniving with accountants from government agencies to siphon money from Account Number One through allowances.

The fraud has seen over 25 accountants from the Anti-Corruption Bureau, Office of Director of Public Prosecutions, Malawi Defence Force, Malawi Police Service (MPS) and the Judiciary being implicated.

MPS deputy spokesperson Harry Namwaza confirmed at the weekend that the law enforcers are investigating the matter and that some people have been arrested.

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According to a charge sheet dated June 23 2022, which was presented to the Lilongwe Senior Resident Magistrate Court, five accountants at the office of the AG have been arrested over the matter.

These, according to the court document, are Estone Nephan Sani, Kondwani Luka, Phylis Kainja, Micuis Chikapusa and Verekeni Mpinganjira.

The five are accused of processing over K159 million in allowances.

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The monies were being drawn from almost all government agencies and departments and investigations are still underway.

The Daily Times can also reveal that officers from the AG’s Department were getting more than 40 days of allowances per month.

Capital Hill sources confided in us that a front desk officer at the AG responsible for disbursing e-payments for ministries and government departments (MDAs) was the first to be caught.

The Daily Times can reveal that one officer at the AG Department was getting an average of K7 million every month, which raised eyebrows and an alert was sent to the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) and Fiscal Police.

Treasury spokesperson Taurai Banda confirmed the development on Saturday, saying investigations into the matter revealed that some officers at the AG’s office were involved in dubious transactions for personal gain.

Banda said, over the past few months, the Treasury has been investigating irregular transactions at the AG’s office.

He said the new Integrated Financial Management Information System (Ifmis) has been instrumental in assisting the government to monitor transactions, identify irregularities, and improve efficiency in public service delivery in accordance with the laws of Malawi.

“The investigation has since successfully exposed what appears to be fraudulent activities perpetrated by personnel in the Accountant General’s Department for personal gain.

“As such, in pursuit of government’s policy of ending corruption and upholding the rule of law, the ministry referred the matter to the Fiscal Police for the enforcement of any laws violated by suspected culprits, resulting in the arrest of at least one officer,” Banda said.

While applauding fiscal police for uncovering the syndicate, Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency Executive Director Willy Kambwandira described the revelations as a litmus test for the implementation of the new Public Finance Management law.

“We applaud Fiscal Police for uncovering the syndicate and we hope proper sanctions will be taken against officers involved.

“The revelations at the Accountant General’s Department are a clear indication that the public purse remains vulnerable to abuse. Unfortunately we are not seeing genuine deterent measures being taken against people who are involved,” Kambwandira said.

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