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Paul Mphwiyo in court November 1

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Cashgate suspect and former budget director, Paul Mphwiyo, is scheduled to take plea, on November 1, in a case in which he and 18 civil servants and contractors are accused of defrauding government of K2.4 billion through theft and money laundering.

Senior State Advocate at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Liness Chikankheni, confirmed the development Tuesday adding that Mphwiyo will be required to attend his next court hearing.

Chikankheni could, however, not confidently comment on Mphwiyo’s whereabouts and possible travels saying his Legal Practitioners from Mvalo & Company or K.D Freeman and Associates were better placed to comment.

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“The case against Mphwiyo and others involves the loss of K2,446,817,450 by fraudulent means and we shall be pursuing all those defendants vigorously, to secure their conviction. 10 [former] civil servants and nine contractors appear on the charge sheet, making the case one of the largest and most complex of its type – if not the first of its type. Consequently, it needs to be handled with the seriousness it deserves”.

The first objection as regards technicalities to the charges was raised in December last year and lawyers for the other accused asked to be given time to raise their preliminary objections. It is only in the last sitting that counsel for the accused asked the court to issue the ruling.

“Counsel for Paul Mphwiyo had objected to the charges against him and the court has, during the recess (meant primarily for judgment-writing), released its ruling on the matter on the 14th September. I am meant to understand that the next hearing is in November 2016.”

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Lawyer for Mphwiyo, Titus Mvalo, was not immediately available to comment on the availability of his client for the next hearing.

DPP Mary Kachale earlier told the court that an IT expert, Steven Likhunya Phiri, is the mastermind of the alleged successful siphoning of the K2.4 billion by Mphwiyo and others.

Phiri, a civil servant said to have a background of Information Technology (IT) expertise, is alleged to have offered his proficiency in beating the Integrated Financial Management Information System (Ifmis) and assisted in the breaching and manipulation of the system, leading to the free for all looting of taxpayers’ money.

Mphwiyo, who is currently on bail, was re-arrested on November 7, 2015 alongside three accused persons, Roosevelt Ndovi, Auzius Kazombo Mwale and Clemence Madzi.

The list of the other accused persons include contractors and some civil servants who signed for the cheques, among them former Accountant General, David Kandoje, who signed a total of eight cheques, Ndovi and Madzi allegedly signed 24 cheques, while the other suspect Mwale signed 16 cheques.

“For Ifmis to be breached, it needed people with advance background of IT or computers and Ifmis knowledge and our allegation is that Phiri was that background person who assisted in the breach and manipulation, we are ready with witnesses, who will bring substantial evidence.

“He played an umbrella role-higher up there. They are things that the people [who plundered] could not have done it without his expertise. That is why he is being joined to the case,” said Kachale

Other suspects answering charges in the case are businessman Stafford Mpoola, Maxwell Namata, George Banda, Patrick Chilalika, Sympathy Chisale, Fatch Chungano, Lumumba Karim, Stanley Mtambo, Cecillia Ng’ambi, Gerald Magaleta Phiri and Ndaona Satema.

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