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PAC, State House clash on Cashgate names

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A blame game has ensued between the Public Accounts Committee (Pac) of Parliament and State House with each accusing the other of not being sincere on the existence of names of cabinet ministers allegedly implicated in the K236 billion forensic audit report.

Pac Vice-Chairperson, Kamlepo Kalua, claims that President Peter Mutharika is in possession of details of businesspersons and companies including some cabinet ministers serving in the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration alleged to have looted public funds between 2009 and 2014.

But State House Press Secretary, Mgeme Kalilani, has maintained that the President’s Office does not have such information.

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Recently, Attorney General (AG), Kalekeni Kaphale, advised Pac, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and the National Audit Office (Nao) against releasing the names until ACB conducts further investigations.

But in an interview with The Daily Times, Kalua claimed that his committee and Mutharika were provided with the list of the names but was quick to point out that the leadership of Pac cannot take any action following Kaphale’s legal opinion.

“We have the list involving seven cabinet ministers and one senior government officials but our hands are tied because of the legal challenges. The President is a lawyer himself and he is immune to prosecution unlike some of us. He can make public the names of the cabinet ministers and sack them so they can be properly prosecuted.

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“I cannot release the list because obviously I can be sued and if I fail to pay, I can be declared bankrupt and lose my seat,” Kalua said.

Quizzed on how certain he is that Mutharika is in also possession of the said details, Kalua said it is an open secret that the President was given the details way before the Auditor General was summoned by Pac on the matter.

But Kalilani challenged Kalua to release the names if at all Pac was indeed furnished with the details of companies and businesspersons allegedly implicated in the audit report, adding that if Kalua was sincere and bold, he could have disclosed the names by now.

Kalilani described the utterances by the Pac Vice-Chairperson as a mere political blame game aimed at scoring cheap political points.

“What will be the President’s interest to protect anyone implicated in the audit report? The President cannot act without being provided with information. As far as the President’s office is concerned, nothing has changed. We are also hearing the speculations from people. The Auditor General does not report to the President but Parliament,” he said.

K577 billion was suspected to have been siphoned from public coffers according to a data analysis by Price Water house Coopers (PwC) of May 2015 but the unreconciled funds have been revised downwards to about K236.

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