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RBM’S K1 trillion transfer under spotlight

Money wired a day before declaration of Chakwera’s election victory

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Onilie Nkuna

Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) wired money amounting to K1 trillion in a single day in June last year to various local commercial banks, Malawi News has learnt.

The transfer took place on June 26, 2021, just a day before President Lazarus Chakwera was declared winner of the fresh presidential election.

The transaction is one of those under investigation at the central bank, according to authorities.

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This revelation comes in the face of allegations of impropriety among senior management at RBM at the time, which recently led to the arrest of former RBM Governor, Dalitso Kabambe, Deputy Governor Henry Mathanga and Senior Dealer Financial Marketing Operations Leah Ndonga who are currently out on bail.

Malawi News has seen trails of the transactions to the tune of K1,014,676,413,803.80 and status of the transactions reading complete and final.

According to procedure, direction to effect payment comes from Treasury where the Budget Director writes formal instruction for the payment to be effected.

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This then goes to the Accountant General who writes a cover letter to the RBM Governor, who in turn passes on the communication to the responsible Head of Department to finalise the process for payment.

It is not clear whether this due diligence process was met as the said transfer was allegedly done in the early hours of 26 June 2020.

When asked about the transaction on Thursday, Minister of Finance Felix Mlusu said they are investigating the matter.

RBM spokesperson Onilie Mkuna also said she could not give a comment as the matter was related to the forensic audit that was carried out at the central bank.

“The bank would have wished to give you detailed information. However, since the issue you are raising is relating to the forensic audit report which is with the law enforcers, unfortunately the Bank would not be in a position to make any comment,” she said.

Economics Association of Malawi (ECAMA) Executive Director Frank Chikuta, also declined to comment on the matter saying since it stems from the recent financial audit that was done at the Central Bank, then the Ministry of Finance or RBM were better placed to respond.

But Human Rights Defenders Coalition chairperson Gift Trapence said by law, all transfers are vetted by the Financial Intelligence Agency and he demanded an explanation if due diligence was followed in this regard.

A recent audit report at the Central Bank covering the period between January 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020 shows that some government ministries, departments and agencies and local commercial banks were embroiled in suspicious payments.

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