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Malawi government drags feet on K151.6 million fraud

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Malawi government remains undecided on whether to declare K151.6 million embezzled at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development a loss, two years after the ministry and the office of the Auditor General (AG) requested for the declaration.

Following recommendation from the office of the AG, the ministry requested Treasury, in 2014, that the embezzlement which was part of the infamous Cashgate be treated as a loss on the part of government.

“The Ministry of Local Government is therefore requesting the Accountant General to treat the said transaction as a loss on the part of government without any officer, either accounting staff or any other officer necessarily taking any legal liability on the same whatsoever,” reads a letter Ref. Number LG/1/3/11 from the ministry that was written on April 11, 2014.

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Though confirming receipt of the communication, Secretary to Treasury, Ronald Mangani, has said he is consulting on the matter.

“I only got the communication not long ago and I am looking at it. Currently, I am consulting so that I make the right decision that will be communicated,” Mangani said.

National Audit Office Public Relations Officer, Rabson Kagwamminga, said following the response from the former secretary for local government Christopher Makileni, on the matter, communication was sent to Secretary to the Treasury and the Accountant General about the loss and advised them to act in accordance with the Public Financial Management Act.

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“Please care to understand that when issues are referred to the two offices, they are the ones to act since this is a loss. This is also related to what ACB [Anti-Corruption Bureau] is pursuing in connection with Cashgate cases which are in court,” Kagwamminga who also doubles as Nao [National Audit Office] Principal Auditor said.

He said the complexity of the matter is also hampering the possibility of recovering the money.

“The issue is very complicated since some of the people in question, especially former civil servants, have not been convicted and sentenced. ACB should have recovered the lost money from them and pay back to government,” he said.

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