News / Africa

Pressure Mounts to Release Names of Malawi ‘Cashgate’ Suspects

Lameck Masina
Pressure is mounting on British forensic auditors to release the names of suspects in what is known as Malawi's Cashgate scandal.   Malawians have trashed the report of the audit team, which omitted names of individuals and companies said to be involved in the massive corruption scandal. 

The government of Malawi hired a British company, Baker Tilly International, to audit its departments between April and September 2013.

The company's report found the government lost about $30 million during that period through fraud, theft and unethical actions.

The report says nearly half of the money went to 16 private companies for services they did not provide.

It says this was done by taking advantage of a loophole in the government's financial management system.  That "hole" has now been sealed.  

However, auditors say they could not release the names of people and companies allegedly involved in the scandal to avoid jeopardizing the ongoing investigations.

Members of parliament's Public Accounts Committee, or PAC, say the absence of suspects' names renders the report a useless document, and infringes upon the rights of taxpayers to know who embezzled the money.

“We want to believe that this report really belongs to the people of Malawi so that we should have a say on how we can use this report," said PAC's chairperson, Beatrice Mwangonde. "We are looking forward to meet these auditors so that they tell us why they are withholding the information.”

Finance Minister Maxwell Mkwezalamba said the government has been strongly advised not to release the names of the suspects “for ethical reasons.”

British High Commissioner to Malawi Michael Nelvin, whose country funded the audit, told a local radio station that releasing the names at this time would be counterproductive.

“We all want to know the full extent of the scandal and we want to bring into account all those involved.  So in our view if we release the names we will endanger that goal.  So the desire by the members of the public to have the names released now may be counterproductive to that and you might also jeopardize the judicial process,” he said.

FILE - Malawi President Joyce Hilda Mtila Banda addresses the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly.FILE - Malawi President Joyce Hilda Mtila Banda addresses the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
x
FILE - Malawi President Joyce Hilda Mtila Banda addresses the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
FILE - Malawi President Joyce Hilda Mtila Banda addresses the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Malawi President Joyce Banda told reporters Tuesday that she also wants to learn the names, but understands why investigators are keeping that information private.

“In fact, we are all eager to know the names," she said.  "But I was told that if we release the names now, the suspects would fly and some would decide to tamper with evidence.  Another issue, is that ethically, auditors are not allowed to carelessly release names of the suspect to avoid being sued once their findings prove to the contrary.”

The president said she has asked the British auditors to come back to Malawi and defend their position before PAC members.  The audit team is expected to meet with PAC in the capital Lilongwe on March 10.

Malawi police uncovered the scandal in September last year, resulting in the arrest of over 60 people including civil servants, business people and politicians.

An investigation found that as much as $250 million could not be accounted for.  In response, donor countries held up about $150 million in budgetary aid, putting a strain on the country's economy.

Donors are expected to meet later this month on whether to resume funding.

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs