Malawi lost $30m to graft - report

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Blantyre - Malawi lost $30-million through corruption and other malpractices in just six months, said a report published on Monday into the biggest financial scandal in the poor southern African nation's history.

The corruption scandal known as “Cashgate” resulted in 68 civil servants and businesspeople being put on trial for siphoning off millions of dollars from state coffers.

President Joyce Banda sacked the entire cabinet as a result of the suspected involvement of senior ministers while donors suspended aid worth around $150-million.

Finance Minister Maxwell Mkwezalamba said Monday that K6.1-billion ($15-million) had been lost as a direct result of Cashgate between April 1 and September 30, 2013.

“The rest of the money was lost through unsupported payments, misprocurement and overpricing,” the former World Bank economist told journalists as he unveiled the long-awaited report compiled by British auditors Baker Tilly.

Mkwezalamaba, who Banda appointed as finance minister at the height of the scandal last year, said Malawi would investigate corruption dating back to 2005 to “have a full understanding of what transpired” and would prosecute those involved.

The government “does not want a repeat of what happened”, he said.

“We want a clean-up, and we will be sweeping away everything so that we have a clean slate.”

The audit is seen as a way of regaining the trust of voters ahead of May 20 elections.

Senior members of Banda's party are implicated in the scandal, but the president has denied any wrongdoing.

Her government claims “loopholes” in the payment system introduced under the previous administration are to blame for the massive looting of public funds.


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