Lutepo money laundering case still on – prosecutor

Malawi’s Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Bruno Kalemba has said the state will still prosecute businessman  Oswald Lutepo on the K1.2 billion theft and money laundering case despite being a state witness against fellow suspect Victor Sithole.

The 27-year-old Sithole was arrested in September last year after being found with K112 million in two separate vehicles, $ 31900 and 121 000 South African rand in his house in Area 47 in Lilongwe.

When hearing of the case continued last Thursday at the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court, the state paraded Lutepo, who is the main suspect in the K1.2 billion (US$2 948 403) theft and money laundering case, as their key witness against Sithole, who pleaded not guilty to all three counts of possession of property believed to have been stolen, illegal possession of foreign currency and money laundering.

Lutepo (L) with his lawyer Jai Banda :  Case still on
Lutepo (L) with his lawyer Jai Banda : Case still on

But the top prosecutor said Lutepo was only paraded in court following his claims that he was forced to sign documents claiming that the money that was found with Sithole belonged to him.

When Sithole was arrested, Lutepo applied to the court to order that the local currency of the money found in Sithole’s possession be released to him, but later changed the tune, claiming he was forced to do so by lawyers Ralph Kasambara and Wapona Kita.

Kalemba said Lutepo was only brought to testify on claims that “he was forced to sign the documents asking for the release of money suspected to have been stolen.”

Lutepo was arrested in November last year and was later charged with K2.6 billion (about $6.8m) theft and money laundering after being on the police wanted list in the wake of the Capital Hill Cashgate scam which was widely exposed following the shooting of Mphwiyo in September 2013.

This was after it was established that of the 20 bank accounts that ACB was probing in connection with loss of government money at Capital Hill, eight either were wholly owned by Lutepo or he jointly owned them with partners.

He was later released on K55 million (about $145 000) bail bond.

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