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Embassy fraud angers Peter Mutharika

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President Peter Mutharika is said to be disturbed by the fraud discovered at the Malawi Embassy in Ethiopia and has since issued three directives to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) to effect immediately.

Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Francis Kasaila said in an interview on Monday that Mutharika has given instructions that all embassies be audited and that the National Audit Office should take over the audit at the Addis Ababa mission to ensure independence in the wake of threats issued to internal auditors. Mutharika has also directed the Chief Secretary to deal with those officers allegedly issuing threats to the auditors in the Addis Ababa saga.

In an interview Chief Secretary to the Government, George Mkondiwa, said government is conducting investigations to establish the threats issued at the auditors.

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“Threatening a person doing his work is a very serious disciplinary matter and can lead to dismissal according to Malawi Public Service Regulations. We are doing our own investigations,” Mkondiwa said:

According to preliminary investigative audit report into the fraud, dated April 15, 2016, and addressed to Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation by Chief Internal Auditor Spencer Mulekano, US$267,271.46 (K184m) was discovered drawn from one account between March and September 2015.

According to the audit report, the breakdown is as follows: Suspended deputy ambassador, Doreen Kapanga, allegedly withdrew US$49,000.00 on March 3, 2015 through cheque number 1131451 and US$26,813.30 on August 3, 2015 through cheque number 1131457.

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Suspended first secretary for administration and finance, Fletcher Chowe, allegedly withdrew US$58 000.00 on March 19, 2015 through cheque number 1131452; US$48,458.16 on June 5, 2015 through cheque number 1131453; US$40,000.00 on August 3, 2015 through cheque number 1131456 and US$45,000.00 on July 7, 2015 through cheque number 1131455.

Internal auditors flew to Addis Ababa to carry out the investigations and one of them Assistant Auditor Gift Mawango has been receiving intimidatory messages from some officers back home and those alleged to be sending such messages are F.Y Phiri of Central Internal Audit Office and a Mr. Kajiya an accounts assistant in the ministry’s Remittance Section.

The team that went to Addis Ababa for the audit is expected back on April 23, 2016 but Mulekano in his communication to the PS says the team will not finish the work by that date.

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