Saturday, May 24, 2008

Former minister goes in for fraud

Former minister goes in for fraud
By Inonge Noyoo
Saturday May 24, 2008 [04:00]

LUSAKA magistrate Sharon Newa yesterday sentenced former Northern Province minister Claver Silavwe to 18 months imprisonment on charges of theft, forgery and uttering false documents. This is a matter in which Silavwe, who is also Nakonde MMD member of parliament, was charged with one count of theft by public servant, nine counts of forgery and one count of uttering false documents.

Silavwe was alleged to have stolen K158,360,000 between March 1, 2005 and August 30, 2006 in Kasama while employed as a public servant in the public service. He is, during the same period, alleged to have forged receipts in Lusaka from Northmead HP Lodge receipt number 3481 for the sum of K10 million by purporting that it was genuinely issued by the said lodge when in fact not.

Silavwe is also alleged to have forged a Millennium Lodge receipt number 5133 for the sum of K5 million, a Lusaka Hotel receipt number 1727 for the sum of K9 million, an SGC Investments receipt number 17327 for the sum of K1.7 million, a cash sale receipt number 5461 for the sum of K1.4 million, three receipts from Peach Guesthouse, a receipt from Cha Cha Cha Guest House and a receipt from North Point Lodge.

Magistrate Newa sentenced Silavwe to 18 months on the second count, nine months on the third count, 18 months on the fourth count, six months on the fifth count, nine months on the ninth count, nine months on count 10 and 18 months on count 11, to run concurrently.

However, Silavwe was acquitted on counts one, six and eight.
Delivering judgment, magistrate Newa said it was a fact that Silavwe was a provincial minister and had obtained imprest through the period he served as minister.

She said Silavwe was asked to retire the imprest following a circular from the Secretary to the Cabinet on the retirement of imprest.
On the first count, magistrate Newa found that there was no evidence adduced to show that Silavwe obtained imprest, did not use it for the purpose intended and converted it for his own use.
She said a National Assembly accounts official testified that part of the imprest had already been recovered from his gratuity.
Magistrate Newa said the ingredients for theft in count one was therefore incomplete and the prosecution failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

On the second count, magistrate Newa said no standard practice was used in the issuance of receipts and no chronological order was followed. She said from the facts of the case, she found that the receipt in question was forged.

Magistrate Newa said though there was no direct evidence to show that Silavwe forged the receipt, the fact that he certified the receipts meant that he was privy to the forgery and as guilty as the person who forged it. She made the same findings in respect of the third, fourth and fifth counts in which he allegedly forged receipts from Northmead HP lodge, Lusaka Hotel and fuel receipts from SGC Investments.

Magistrate Newa said the prosecution had proved its case and found him guilty forthwith.
On the sixth count, magistrate Newa said the prosecution failed to prove its case against Silavwe and acquitted him forthwith.
On the seventh count, magistrate Newa found that the receipts from Cha Cha Cha Guest House were forged and found him guilty.
However, on the eighth count regarding receipts from Peach Guest House, the prosecution failed to prove that the receipts were forged and Silavwe was acquitted.

On the ninth and 10th counts, magistrate Newa found that Silavwe forged the receipts from Peach Guest House and was guilty of uttering the false documents in count 11.
Magistrate Newa said the prosecution had discharged its burden as the receipts were forged.

In mitigation, Silavwe's lawyer Paulman Chungu pleaded with the court to exercise leniency on his client because he was a first offender.

Chungu said records had shown that opportunity still existed to recover the outstanding balance when Silavwe's gratuity was payable. He said Silavwe's conviction was a culmination of conduct in an attempt to reconcile his obviously poor records as he attempted to retire the receipts.

Chungu pleaded that Silavwe was a breadwinner of his household of eight children, all of school-going age.

Passing the sentence, magistrate Newa said forgery was a serious offence and Silavwe being a person who served in a very senior portfolio was expected to lead by example.
Magistrate Newa said Silavwe failed in his duties.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home