Malawi sacked 68 civil servants over salary fraud

The African country Malawi has fired 68 civil servants for embezzling $2 million (1.71 million euros) in public funds, an official said Thursday, as the country tries to crack down on corruption that has seen donors withdraw support.

Employees at the agricultural ministry have been accused of running a scheme of inflated salaries or payments for non-existent workers between 2012 and 2014.

“Sixty-eight officers have been dismissed and their cases referred to the attorney general for prosecution,” Osborne Tsoka, the ministry’s spokesman, said in a statement.

A probe showed most of the money was stolen by accounts personnel at the ministry’s headquarters in Lilongwe and at research stations

Malawi’s 180,000 civil servants earn an average of about $100 (85 euros) a month, and corruption is widespread in the public sector.

In 2013 several high-ranking officials were implicated in the “Cashgate” scandal, when millions of dollars were stolen from government coffers.

International donors pulled the plug on aid of around $150 million after it was revealed that at least $30 million was stolen over one six-month period scrutinised by auditors.

Scores of civil servants, politicians and business people implicated in “Cashgate” are facing criminal charges, though only four have been convicted.