Cash-gate suspect denied bail

Banda captured at the court
Banda captured at the court

The Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court yesterday denied bail to Llyod Banda who has been charged with obstructing the prosecution of justice for attempting to conceal payment vouchers amounting to K89 million. (US$245 179)

His wife Martha Banda, an accountant at the Accountant General’s office, is a suspect in the ongoing fraud at Capital Hill and was arrested last week in connection with suspected theft of K96 million. (US$264 462).

The State, through police prosecutor Happy Mkandawire, asked the court that the spouse should remain in custody for an additional week to enable investigators complete their job without obstruction.

Chief resident magistrate Ruth Chinangwa agreed that seven days was not unduly excessive but asked the State to bring the matter back to court on Tuesday, October 16.

Banda, 40, was arrested alongside his house servant Robert Ngunga, 35, whom he instructed to take out of a house belonging to the couple vouchers kept in a travelling bag.

“When his wife was arrested, police searched their house and we only found cash amounting to K7.8 million. ((US$ 19 283) Later, we were tipped that the couple had a second house where a house servant was seen taking away a travelling bag, so we followed up on that and arrested the two,” Mkandawire said.

The charge sheet indicates that the transactions were made between November 3 2008 and December 21 2010 bearing payments ranging from K700 000 (US$1 928) to K2.5 million, (US$5 509) at times cashing over eight cheques in a day.

The arrest of Banda’s husband has put into question the status of the civil servants who have been arrested since the scandal erupted at Capital Hill.

Sources told The Nation that the suspects have received letters of interdiction pending conclusions of their cases in court.

However, spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance, Nations Msowoya, said the “administrative process was taking its course” but confirmed that the suspects were not reporting for duty.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Monday arrested Chazika Munthali, a principal accountant in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), in connection with three payment vouchers which he approved, resulting in payment of over K1 billion to International Procurement Services which had no contract with government.

Munthali is the second suspect to be arrested after Frank Mwanza, another accountant at OPC.

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