Top tourism ministry official Treza Namathanga Senzani who is the first convict in the so-called “Cashgate” scandal that led to the suspension of foreign aid has been has been jailed to three years for offences of money laundering.
‘Cashgate’ denotes the systematic skimming of millions of dollars of money from the government payment system.
Trial Judge Ivy Kamanga passed her sentence on Tuesday after more than two hours of delivering her determination.
Senzani, accompanied by her husband and family members, sat calmly in the court as her sentence was being delivered.
Justice Kamanga sentenced Senzani to nine months for a charge of theft and three yrs for money laundering. The sentences will run concurrently.
The judge also ordered the forfeiture of her money and banks account to be taken by the State.
Justice Kamanga said on money laundering an option of K2 million fine cannot be exercised. She pointed out that despite Senzani being first offender, she does not deserve a suspended sentence.
Senzani pleaded guilty to stealing around $150,000 (63 million kwacha) from state coffers, part of a broader swindle worth at least $30 million and was convicted on her own guilty plea.
She was arrested last year after a probe found she issued two government cheques to her own company, which did not provide any goods or services to government.
‘Cashgate’ unravelled following the shooting of former Budget Director Paul Mphwiyo on 14 September 2013. Thereafter, huge sums of money in Malawi Kwacha, South African Rands and US dollars started showing up in unlikely places like car boots or under pillows as the suspects were avoiding formal banking since the unexplained money could have raised eye-brows.
At least 70 people were arrested and are currently facing theft, fraud, corruption and money laundering charges in courts.
Western donor nations, who bank roll at least 40 percent of Malawi’s budget, reacted by pulling the plug on the earmarked US $150m in budgetary support.
‘Cashgate’ is Malawi’s biggest financial scandal in the southern African country’s 50-year history as an independent country.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :