LILONGWE (Malawi NewsNow)-Former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo could not take plea in multi-billion cashgate case on Wednesday after his lawyers objected to the late service of amended charges.
Mphwiyo and 18 others were expected to plead to the K2.4 billion (about $3.6million) theft and money laundering charges, but lawyer Titus Mvalo SC informed the court that the charge sheet had been amended and served to the defence late.
Lawyer Mvalo said the amendments as significant and would be not be safe for the defendants to take plea before having a thorough understanding of the charges.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale confirmed about amended charges on the count of abuse of office as it has now been split six ways with specific particulars affecting each of the defendants.
There is also amended the dates for each to read that the abuse of office occurred between August 1 and September 15 2013. Previously, the charge read that the crime was committed between April 1 and July 30 2013.
Mphwiyo is facing charges alongside 18 others, including civil servants such as former Accountant General David Kandoje, Auzius Kazombo Mwale, Clemence Mmadzi and Roosevelt Ndovi. There are also contractors among the accused persons.
Others are George Banda, Michael Mphatso, Samuel Mzanda and Maxwell Namata who are facing charges of fraud, negligence by public office, money laundering, theft by public servant, theft by servant and conspiracy to defraud government amounting to K2 446 817 450.49.