Defence pays N$303 391 to ghost attaché

Defence pays N$303 391 to ghost attaché
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The Ministry of Defence (MoD) spent N$303 391 on a non-existing attaché purportedly posted to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Auditor General (AG), Junias Kandjeke, found.
He made this finding in the latest MoD audit report for the 2018/19 financial year which was tabled in the National Assembly by finance minister Ipumbu Shiimi recently.
Kandjeke acknowledges in his report that indeed a Defence Attaché was appointed on 21 January 2014 and accredited to the DRC for a period of four years.
The attaché’s term commenced on 1 March 2014 to 28 February 2018.
However, during the period under review, no individual was appointed as a defence attaché to the DRC.
This mission has a bank account which is held at Stanbic Bank, Kinshasa.
It had a closing balance of N$493 129.31 at the end of the 2017/18 financial year.
“The audit found that total expenditure of US$17 496.60 [N$303 391] was incurred even though there was no Defence Attaché based in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the 2018/2019 financial year. The auditors were not provided with documents on what the funds were spent on in the absence of an Attaché at the mission,” Kandjeke said in the report, something the AG wants the ministry to explain.
Moreover, MoD also opened a bank account without following proper procedure as required by the State Finance Act, Kandjeke further established.
At the closing of the 2017/18 financial year, the Defence Attaché account held in Stanbic Bank had a closing balance of N$493 129.31.
However, during the year of the audit, the same amount was held in under a Trust Merchant Bank, SA, RD Congo, without any treasury approval.
The State Finance Act under section 4 (a) makes it clear that “an accounting officer may, with the authorisation of treasury, open an account at a bank or any commercial bank into which all state money received by the accounting officer and as determined by the treasury, shall be deposited and from which all expenditure shall be defrayed and all payments shall be made as Treasury may determine.”
Additionally, the MoD went further to pay N$18 952.62 on 12 March 2019 in respect of “Spouse Allowance” from the Trust Merchant S.A account.
“No evidence was provided to substantiate the cost incurred, as the Defence Attaché who was accredited to that mission's term ended in February 2018. No proof was provided for any Defence Attaché being appointed during the period under review,” he said.
MoD promised to dispatch a team of internal auditors to the Office of the Defence Attaché to investigate Kandjeke’s findings and submit an independent report to the AG.