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Cashgate suspect had K300 in account

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The High court in Lilongwe on Thursday heard that Cashgate suspect, Yohane Kaweche, had K353 in his account in September 2013 before it was accredited with K36 million while his accomplice, Stewart Nkhata, had overdrawn his account by K5.2 million before a cheque of K30 million was deposited in his account.

The two together with another suspect, Steven Mwenitete, are each answering two counts of money laundering and lending a certificate for personation.

It is alleged that Kaweche between September 1 and 30, 2013, trading under Mundikhumbengi Building Contractors in Mzuzu, lent the said certificate to Mwenitete with intent to impersonate and in the process defrauded government of K36, 479,656.32 for work not done.

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During the same period, Nkhata is also suspected to have lent his certificate under Stewart Construction to Nkhuzo James Bandula Chirwa with intent to impersonate and also fraudulently steal K30, 720,343.68 government money which was paid to Nkhata’s bank account.

The three businesspersons pleaded not guilty to the charges before Judge Chifundo Kachale when hearing of the case started on Thursday.

The prosecuting team led by Enock Chibwana paraded four witnesses who included an investigator from Standard Bank, a senior manager from FDH and officials from the Office of the Director Public Procurement (ODPP) and Ministry of Trade and Public Works.

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In his testimony, an investigator from Standard Bank, Gaver Ziwa, told the court that he verified the account as belonging to Kacheche and it showed that a government cheque worth K36 million was deposited into the account, adding that at the time there was K352.35 in the account.

Another witness, Violet Skeva, who works as High Networth Individuals for FDH confirmed to the court that account number 9700000007597 belonging to Nkhata had a cheque worth K30 million deposited into the account.

“The cheque was deposited on 5th September and was cleared on the 10th. The account had been overdrawn by K5.4 million and once it was cleared ,the balance that remained was K25.2 million, and by the 16th of September the whole amount had been drawn,” she said.

Chief Development Officer at ODPP, Peter Makanga, and Hastings Chiudzu who is Director of Building at Ministry of Trade and Public Works, denied any knowledge of government offering any contracts to the companies during the period in question.

“On 6th November 2013, I was approached by fiscal police and I checked files dating back to 2012 and there was no evidence that the two companies had a contract to work for the ministry. I further stated that unless the contracts are below the monetary threshold of K5 million, the contractors were hired irregularly,” Makanga said.

Kaweche 58, hails from Chipimbininga Village, T/A Kabunduli in Nkhata Bay, Nkhata,51, comes from Mafuta Village in the same T/A Kabunduli’s while Mwenitete, 44, is from Nkhonde Village, T/A Kilipula in Karonga.

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