Malawi court jails ex-justice minister for 13 years
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