Malawi court jails ex-jus­tice min­is­ter for 13 years

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

LI­LONGWE — The High Court of Malawi has jailed for­mer jus­tice min­is­ter Ralph Kasam­bara for 13 years for con­spir­ing to mur­der Trea­sury of­fi­cial Paul Mph­wiyo.

Kasam­bara has been con­victed along­side for­mer Malawi De­fence Force (MDF) sol­dier Macdon­ald Kumwembe and busi­nessper­son Pika Manondo.

Kumwembe and Manondo also faced a sep­a­rate charge of at­tempt­ing to mur­der the for­mer bud­get di­rec­tor.

High Court Judge Micheal Mtambo also sen­tenced Manondo and Kumwembe to 15 years hard labour for at­tempted mur­der and 11 years for con­spir­acy to mur­der.

Manondo and Kumwembe’s sen­tences will run con­sec­u­tively, mean­ing they will serve 26 years in prison. The shoot­ing of the trea­sury of­fi­cial out­side his house in 2013 opened a can of worms on high pro­file cor­rup­tion in Malawi.

Soon after the shoot­ing in­ci­dent, sev­eral gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials were ar­rested with suit­cases and bags of money stashed in the boots of ve­hi­cles.

Dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tions of the twin cases of the shoot­ing and cor­rup­tion, po­lice im­pounded im­pro­vised cash-chests un­der bed­rooms of some gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials.

In a twist of events, Mph­wiyo who ear­lier was branded as an anti-cor­rup­tion fighter, was also im­pli­cated in graft.

He is cur­rently an­swer­ing charges of theft and money laun­der­ing. Mph­wiyo is sus­pected to have stolen or laun­dered about $3.3 mil­lion in 2013 when he was Malawi’s Bud­get Di­rec­tor.

A foren­sic au­dit later re­vealed that up to $32m was looted from the Trea­sury through fi­nan­cial leak­ages dis­guised as pay­ments for ghost projects.

The in­quiry also dis­closed var­i­ous pit­falls, loop­holes and pro­ce­dural flaws in the fi­nan­cial man­age­ment sys­tem and pro­cesses that had largely fa­cil­i­tated il­le­gal prac­tices.

Ac­cord­ing to Bri­tish au­dit firm Baker Tilly, Malawi Gov­ern­ment ac­count­ing soft­ware used had weak pass­word pro­tec­tion which re­sulted in past trans­ac­tions be­ing edited and deleted.

It is al­leged that the huge chunk of the $32 bil­lion looted from the Trea­sury in 2013 was used to fi­nance po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns of na­tional elec­tions which were con­ducted in 2014. — AP

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