An investigative audit into the plunder of resources at Malawi Embassy in Ethiopia has revealed that K293 million was siphoned out of the public purse and deposited into personal accounts.
Theft of public resources at the mission was detected April 2016 after former secretary for administration and finance, Fletcher Chowe, wrote a cheque in his name.
The cheque was signed by Malawi’s deputy ambassador to Ethiopia Doreen Kapanga.
Malawi Ambassador to Ethiopia and African Union (AU) Chimango Chirwa reported of an attempted fraud by members of staff at the mission, which prompted government to institute an investigative audit to establish if indeed fraud had occurred, the extent and perpetrators of the fraud.
The revelation also led to the suspension of three officials suspected to have dipped their fingers into the public purse.
Speaking when he updated the media yesterday on the plunder of resources at the Addis Ababa mission, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Francis Kasaila said auditors who were assigned to investigate “have indeed uncovered massive fraudulent activities taking place at the mission”.
Explained Kasaila: “The report has revealed that the officials implicated were using a well-crafted operation to siphon money out of the public purse, which they would then deposit in their personal accounts. The report shows this systematic and merciless plunder of public resources at the Addis Ababa mission started in 2013.”
He said government is now treating the issue as theft and that law enforcement authorities have been tasked to carry out investigations and ensure that those suspected to have participated in the illegal sharing of public resources account for their actions in courts.
Kasaila disclosed that following this development, his ministry has written the Auditor General (AG) to conduct independent audits in all other missions beginning with those which have not been audited in the recent past.
He said government expects the National Audit Office (NAO) to start the exercise with Pretoria Mission and Johannesburg Consulate from May 9 2016.
Former minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation George Chaponda once asserted that the fraud has all the characteristics of the infamous Cashgate, which saw government losing K24 billion.