The first accused in the K201 million Cashgate case testified Tuesday that his brother-in-law duped him into using his business documents and bank account.
“I trusted my brother-in-law and I could not suspect anything,” Cornelius Kaphamtengo told the court yesterday.
He testified that he did not know that his brother-in-law, Conrad Nambala, was engaged in some illegal deals when he allowed him to use his company and bank account.
Kaphamtengo and 10 others are answering three counts of conspiring to defraud government, theft of public funds and money laundering, which they are suspected to have committed between November 2010 and June 2011.
The court already found them with a case to answer. Nambala was working as an accountant in the then Ministry of Disability, where the five cheques amounting to about K201 million that the suspects are said to have shared during the period in question originated from.
Kaphamtengo is a professional engineer and owns Nova Technologies and General Dealings, a company which Nambala used in the alleged scam.
He testified that he did not want Nambala, a brother to his wife, to lose lucrative business that he said he had with government.
According to Kamphamtengo, his brother- in-law took advantage of the legit papers like up-to-date Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) and Office of the Director of Procurement (ODPP) documents that the company possessed.
He also took advantage because Nova Technologies and General Dealings had a history of doing business with government
The first suspect, who testified on his own behalf, said it was his understanding and belief that whatever business Nambala secured with government would benefit government through tax.
Kamphamtengo, however, said he never saw the contract that Nambala had with government but was only told that it was business to do with the supply of construction materials.
He said his efforts to see the agreement between government and Nambala proved futile as his brother-in-law kept on just promising without fulfilling.
On the cheques that Kaphamtengo was issuing from his personal bank account, he said Nambala told him they were his business partner’s.
“My brother-in-law could just call me and dictate the list of people to be issued with cheques and the amount of money to be given to each of the people on that list. I could write cheques and send them to Lilongwe where Nambala was staying using courier,” Kaphamtengo said.
Despite owning the company whose National Bank and FMB accounts were used to deposit the government cheques, being responsible for the cheque issuance and participating in the transactions, Kaphamtengo insisted he never got anything out of the deal.
During cross-examination, lead state prosecutor Anti-Corruption Bureau Deputy Director General Reyneck Matemba wondered why Kaphamtengo never bothered to know the truth about the deal. His answer was all was based on trust.
The case continues today when other suspects, including Kaphamtengo’s wife, Yvonne Kaphamtengo, will testify for their defence.
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