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Rising fraud in Malawi worries new PCL chief

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New Group Chief Executive Officer for Press Corporation Limited George Partridge has expressed concern over an “increasing number and magnitude of frauds” in the country.

Partridge laid bare his concerns in an exclusive interview with Malawi News this week.

He indicated he found the degree of moral decay in the country rather staggering in its proportion and he described it as a national challenge.

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“The moral decay in our society and its trajectory worries me a lot and is truly a national challenge of gargantuan proportions. I spent sleepless nights to figure out what can be done about this menace,” he said as he detailed how he rose through the ranks in the banking sector.

Partridge said the Cashgate saga, for instance, in which civil servants looted up to K24 billion of public money within days and the rampant corruption elsewhere in Malawi’s systems, are a manifestation of the level of moral rot in the society.

The PCL chief also expressed reservations with the “actions and inactions” of law enforcement systems in the country.

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He said in spite of “so many imaginative controls experts can devise, it has been made even more difficult because of the way all relevant institutions which we think are supposed to be part of the solution are looking like they are now increasingly being part of the problem itself through their actions or inactions.”

He said this moral degeneration is down in part to the belief that crime is beneficial.

“The perception out there is that crime in Malawi, on balance of probabilities, does pay. I am talking here about the role of our institutions whose actions or inactions seem to be subtly condoning such errant behaviours, and that includes law enforcement agencies and the whole judicial system,” he said.

He said fraud and corruption have also become a major challenge to banks in Malawi.

Partridge said banks are often accused for lack of progress on development, for high interest rates, for currency shortages, for fluctuating exchange rates and even for ‘cash-gate’.

“The industry image has been battered for some time and is blamed for things that it is not responsible for,” he said.

Such accusations put a lot of pressure on bankers, he said, particularly those who are at CEO position to manage such negative views.

“Key is civic education, taking every opportunity to create goodwill by explaining the role of banks, especially commercial banks in society and its limitations on what they can do and what they cannot do,” he said.

Partridge was Chief Executive Officer for National Bank for 10 years until the announcement of his appointment as PCL’s Group CEO in August. He started work last month.

Press Corporation Limited is Malawi’s largest conglomerate and is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

It has stakes in Ethanol Company Limited, Carlsberg Malawi, Limbe Leaf Tobacco Company Limited, Macsteel Malawi Limited, Malawi Telecommunications Limited, Maldeco Fisheries, National Bank of Malawi, Presscane Limited, Press Properties Limited, People’s Trading Centre Limited, Puma Energy Malawi and Telekom Networks Limited.

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