Ndaona Satema, one of the accused persons in the K2.4 billion Cashgate also involving former budget director Paul Mphwiyo, confessed that her account was used to deposit money from the looting in public funds at Capital Hill known as Cashgate.
Satema of Kanengo Building Contractors admitted in court through her lawyer Moses Nkhono to have received three cheques amounting to K167 million which she deposited in her company account and later cashed out and remitted the cash to Cashgate convict Leonard Kalonga who masterminded payments from government through several contractors,.
But Satema who pleaded not guilty to a money laundering charge claimed she did not received her 10 percent commission from Kalonga and she has told the court that she was not aware that the cheques were of money stolen from the Malawi government.
Nkhono told the court that Satema admits three cheques went through her account.
“But the admission of these facts is not admitting the offence,” the lawyer argued.
Kalonga—who was convicted of charges of conspiracy to defrauding government, facilitating money laundering and money laundering— testified that Satema got her 10 percent commission.
Director of Public Prosecution, Mary Kachale told Judge Esmie Chambo that Satema and other suspects confirmed their account were used to cash Cashgate cheques from government but “they are disputing that they took 10 percent.”
Kachale said the suspect including Stanford Mpoola of Stadal Building contractors, Fatch Chungano of Makhausi, Sympathy Chisale of Mchemani Building Contractors “knew the purpose of which this money was being drawn.”
Mphwiyo, former accountant general David Kandoje and one Auzius Kazombo-Mwale and convicted civil servant Maxwell Namata denied various counts, including conspiracy to defraud, theft by a public servant, theft by a servant, negligence and money laundering, among others.
Others who pleaded not guilty to related charges were Steven Phiri, George Banda, Michael Mphatso, Samuel Mzanda, Andrews Chilalika, Clemence Madzi, Rosevelt Ndovi, Mpoola, Chungano, Cecilia Ng’ambi, Gerald Magaleta Phiri and Chisale.
Businessperson Limumba Karim is on the run in South Africa after absconding bail and a warrant of arrest was issued by the court.
The theft led international donors, which bankroll the country’s budget by up to 40%, to pull the plug on aid worth $150m until the government in Lilongwe cleans up the situation.
Political commentators have expressed fears that donors will suspend aid indefinitely because it could take years for the courts to complete cases that implicate several senior officials of the People’s party of former president Joyce Banda, as well as top civil servants and business people.
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