Prosecutors in the cashgate case involving convicted businessman Oswald Lutepo has appealed to Judge Redson Kapindu to infuse stiff sentence to the convict dismissing mitigation factors by his defence lawyer seeking a lenient one year jail but suspended.
Lutepo’s lawyer, Oswald Mtupila, on Monday pleaded for leniency, before Judge Kapindu at High Court registry in Zomba.
He told the court that Lutepo took a “bold decision” to plead guilty on charges of conspiracy to defraud government and money laundering of K4.2 billion ($9.3 million) between April and September 2013,
He asked the court to consider giving Lutepo a maximum of 12 months imprisonment with a suspended sentence.
“The convict has engaged the state in a view of making restitution hence court should be lenient with sentence,” Mtupila submitted before the court.
“Lutepo didn’t waste court’s time, money and he cooperated. Court should take that into consideration when passing sentence,” said the defendant’s lawyer.
But State prosecutors disagreed with Lutepo’s lawyer of lenient sentence.
Deputy Director of Anti Corruption Bureau, Reyneck Matemba told the court that 12mnths imprisonment and suspended sentence would be “an insult “to Malawians
“Malawians are suffering, donors no longer funding budget thanks to cashgate which Lutepo took part in.
“He was rich and comfortable but wanted to reap where he didn’t sow He should have known that crime doesn’t pay,” Matemba told the court.
Director of Public Prosecution Mary Kachale acknowledged mitigation factors but pointed out that though first offender, the State spent a lot of money on him.
“State spent money on hiring a psychologist,” she said.
On restitution, the DPP noted that Lutepo agrees that he took part in the embezzlement scandal.
“Lutepo was not only used. If he had refused his clients could somehow not have successes in stealing money from government,” said Kachale.
She added: “The fact that his companies were used to steal money from govt making Malawians suffer this is like armed robbery without guns.
“The fact the he was a billionaire already shows that he was greedy. He should have been content with what he had.”
Kachale said on money laundering maximum sentence is 10 years imprisonment but can be give nine year. On conspiracy to defraud government, maximum sentence is three can be given one year.
She said Lutepo should get a minimum of 10 years jail.
But Mtupila pleaded with the court that it should not give harsh punishment because of public outcry.
“Many people he supported will suffer and this will do no good to nation,” he said.
“He has confessed would not do it again and restituted all he had that was associated with cashgate,” pleaded Mtupila.
Mtupila said Lutepo is only 37 years, young and at prime productive age.
Lutepo wants to restitute his Woget Industries Limited, currently undergoing bankruptcy proceedings, which the State had initially targeted for confiscation.
Woget is a subject of controversy following huge discrepancies that have resulted from valuations conducted separately by the State (at K293 million) and the defence at K1.427 billion (excluding the land on which it is planted).
Other assets of Lutepo, among them, International Procurement Services, O and G Construction Limited and Naming’omba Tea Estate
Judge Kapindu has since adjourned to September 5 for sentencing.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :