Accountant testifies in K247,000 fraud

A witness in the case of two former assistant accountants in the Ministry of Justice accused of forging a cheque in the sum of K 247,250 has testified that there was no authorization from the permanent secretary pertaining to the payment through a cheque.

Christopher Mponyela, 41, an accountant in the Ministry of Justice said according to Government procedures, if a withdrawal had to be made, the PS should authorize the payment which would be done in writing.

He said after the authorization by the PS, the authority goes to the Principal Accountant who later endorses it to the accountant who also passes it on to the Assistant Accountant responsible for the expenditure.

Mr Mponyela said in the matter before court, there was no authorization of any payment which passed through his office.

He said payment vouchers were normally raised before being taken to the Human Resource Administration for approval.

Mr Mponyela said after the Human Resource Administration approval, the vouchers go back to the Accounts department  to finalise the process.

He said he became aware of the cheque in question  when the current Assistant accountant Nsambo Choongo informed him that there was a payment made in the Laws of account (accounts for revenue used for deposits)which she had discovered from the sales of laws of Zambian volumes.

Mr.Mponyela told the court that after he was informed, he advised Ms Choongo to request for a bank statement from ZANACO Bank .

He said he also advised Ms Choongo to take the statements to the PS (Mr. Joseph Akufumba) who immediately called for a meeting.

He said the meeting was about a fraud and that Nixson Muuka was a key suspect because he was allegedly a signatory and in charge of withdrawals.

Mr.Mponyela said when he saw the bank statements with a sum of k 247.250.00 in respect of Nsambo Choongo dated 14 November 2013 with an account title Ministry of Justice Laws of Zambia of which Ms Choongo did not sign for.

He denied seeking authority of the payment of k 247.250.00 and said the purpose of the withdrawal of the funds was not known and that he did not know the persons who made the withdrawal of the payment but suspected two signatories of his assistants Nixson Muuka and Richard Sinkonde.

He said the duo Muuka and Sinkonde were given suspension letters and the matter was reported at Kabwata Police Station who commenced an investigation.

Mr.Mponyela confirmed that the cheque could have been forged because the payment could not be done without the payee’s signature.

But in cross examination Mr.Mponyela was challenged by defence counsel that the cheque in question could have not been admitted without the authority from the PS and the payment voucher and it could have not beenproduce.

And defence counsel further asked Mr.Mponyela whether he was aware that the revenue account of which the payment was withdrawn from can be used at any time if there was a delay of funds from the treasurer.

Mr. Mponyela told the court that he was not aware that sometimes cheques could be issued at the bank without the payee’s signature this was after Defence counsel told him that there were many cheques which have been issued at the bank without the payee’s signatures and payments are made.

Defence counsel also asked Mr. Mponyela Whether he had documents to prove as evidence that only cheques signed by the payees should be the ones to be cashed and whether he had proof that there was no authority from the PS  he replied that he never asked the PS whether he authorized for the payments of the cheque.

Defence counsel told the court that it was not his clients fault if they were given a cheque without the payee’s signatories.

The matter comes up on August 8 and 10 for a continuation of trial.