The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has said it cannot be sure on when it will complete the probe on 13 files that were submitted to the Bureau in relation to the forensic audit covering the period from January 2009 to December 2014.
It says the forensic Audit report from which the 13 files were produced took the auditors 10 months, and it cannot be a very fast process to them.
The money said to be involved according to the audit was initially K577 billion, before it was reduced to K236 billion.
The Bureau’s Director, Lucas Kondowe, said this at a press conference in Lilongwe.
“We have been working on the 13 files submitted to the Bureau. We have been trying to establish whether or not there were any elements of fraud and corruption. It will take a little bit of time to complete the process. Be reminded that it took almost a year for the forensic auditors to compile the report,” Kondowe said.
The 13 files detail payments that were made to 13 companies from Malawi Police Service (MPS) and Malawi Defence Force (MDF). The total payments made to these 13 companies is K17.1 billion.
Flanked by his deputy, Reyneck Matemba, and Director of Investigations, Dan Mponda, Kondowe said according to information in the 13 files, there are no ministers mentioned.
“It is entirely not true that there are files of cabinet ministers. There are no files of cabinet ministers. Those files do not exist,” Kondowe said.
When quizzed if the Bureau was under any pressure from cabinet ministers to clear them, Kondowe said they were just talking about information that is in the files which are with the Bureau.
Mponda said they had to look at a number of issues in the files.
“We were looking at possible offences. Some have to be pursued under the Penal Code, others under the Corrupt Practices Act. They are thick files. A lot of time is needed get the information from them.
“We have to look at the companies. Who are the owners? Were government cheques paid out? What about cheques paid to private individuals? We have just concluded that process and we need to see which angles to pursue after this stage,” Mponda said.
The 13 files result from a further analysis of government financial records conducted by RSM Risk Assurance Services LLP in May this year.
Initially, in the aftermath of the infamous Cashgate of 2013, the NAO contracted PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) to do a data analysis of government’s financial records for that period.
PWC found that K577 billion worth of transactions could not be found on the cashbooks at Capital Hill.
NAO later engaged RSM Risk Assurance Services LLP “to utilise the results of the first stage of the forensic audit to derive evidence that could be used to investigate those who may have committed financial mismanagement and other financial crimes”.
It is out of this second analysis that the 13 files have arisen.
In its report released last month, RSM cites the purchase of police uniforms as one of the areas of concern in the transactions.
According to its report, in one case, a supplier invoiced the Malawi Police Service for fatigues which, had they been delivered in full, this one order alone would provide every police officer in Malawi with 14 sets of fatigues.
These questionable purchases of police uniforms occurred even in 2015.
Previously, in a six month period in 2009, the Office of Director of Public Procurement (ODPP) provided for ‘no objections’ to the supply of uniforms to the immigration and police services.
“We cannot at this stage confirm if these items were supplied, delivered or fully paid for,” reads the report.
There have been reports that the 13 files which NAO submitted to the ACB contain names of cabinet ministers and other officials involved in the potentially shady transactions.
Government’s failure to disclose the names has become a matter of hot debate, with some quarters arguing that President Peter Mutharika is deliberately sitting on the names to avoid embarrassing his government.
Mutharika has consistently argued that he does not have the names.
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