Lawyers for former Malawi Defence Force (MDF) Commander General Henry Odillo are arguing that the State’s allegations on financial fraud and abuse of office related to K2 billion Cashgate, are “vague” and contingent.
Odillo, 57, his then deputy Clement Kafuwa, 63, former Accountant General David Kandoje, Retired Lt Colonel Nelson Kauwa Banda, 62, and Ganizani Kuchombo, 39, were charged with eight counts which the State has multiplied the charges against the accused persons .
But defence lawyers argue that some charges lack clarity.
Prosecutors told the court that Odillo and other will face eight counts: conspiracy, improper payments, use of public office for personal advantage, dealing in contract, money laundering, gross negligence and influencing the use of public office for advantage.
The case stems from a payments made by the military, between March and September 2013, to Alexander Banda of Thuso Group amounting to ZAR 30 000 000 (K1.4 billion) and K929 810 000.
The former Army general and other defendants were due to take plea but could not as their attornies led by Titus Mvalo (SC) raised preliminary objections on multiplicity of the charges based on the same facts which were previously ruled against in past court rulings.
Mvalo asked the prosecution to amend the charge sheet and have clarity and details, saying failure to identify other people who were part of the conspiracy only identified as “others” on the charge sheet is against the spirt of the law.
Special prosecutor for cashgate, Kamudoni Nyasulu argued courts have accepted that conspiracy cases could stand without the State specifying the exact time and place of the crime.
Justice Redson Kapindu adjourned the matter to “a date to be fixed by the court”.
Odillo and his former deputy, Lt Col Clement Kafuwa, are accused of arranging a contract to supply military equipment to Thuso Investments, which the State claims were not delivered..
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) arrested them as part of an on going investigation into government corruption known as “cashgate”.
Odillo was fired by President Peter Mutharika in June 2015 and later given lucrative job in parastatal organisation.
ACB deputy director general Reyneck Matemba is on record saying Thuso had valid contracts with MDF prior to 2013, but the graft-busting agency found that there was no evidence of a K900 million contract to supply blank bullets.
The September 2014 forensic audit report by British firm Baker Tilly found that close to K18 billion of the K24 billion plundered between April and September 2013 was channelled through MDF.
Odillo and Kafuwa were apparently signatories of several cheques, including K3 billion to International Procurement Services (IPS) owned by businessperson Osward Lutepo—who was convicted and is serving prison sentence on other money laundering charges—and K1.5 billion to Thuso, co-owned by Kauwa and Alexander Banda, according to information sourced from ACB.
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