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Malawi’s top court founds tycoon guilty for attempting to bribe judges

Thom Mpinganjira attempted to influence judges to rule in favor of then president in 2019 election case, court rules

Ekip   | 10.09.2021
Malawi’s top court founds tycoon guilty for attempting to bribe judges

Malawi

By Moses Michael-Phiri

BLANTYRE, Malawi (AA) - Malawi’s high court on Friday convicted business tycoon Thom Mpinganjira for attempting to bribe five constitutional court judges who were hearing the 2019 election case.

Delivering the ruling in the southern Blantyre city, judge Dorothy DeGabriele said the evidence before the court showed that Mpinganjira offered a bribe to induce the judges to deliver a ruling in favor of the then President Peter Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party.

Mpinganjira, who owns a leading commercial bank in Malawi and other financial businesses, was arrested in January last year.

He was charged with six counts under the Corrupt Practices Act.

The business mogul is reported to have offered the judges a parcel containing about 100 million Malawian Kwacha ($120 000).

Mpinganjira denied that there was a parcel he wanted to offer to the judges as an inducement, but rather wanted to verify if indeed the judges were receiving parcels from other parties in the case.

Following the conviction, Mpinganjira’s bail has been revoked and has been remanded at Chichiri Prison in Blantyre awaiting sentencing.

Meanwhile, Mpinganjira’s lawyer Tamando Chokhotho has asked the court for a suspended sentence.

“My client is a first offender, has health complications since he suffered from COVID-19, helps a number of less privileged people in the society, has a foundation and is a sponsor to one of the biggest teams in the country, Mighty Wanderers,” he told the court.

But State Prosecutor Reyneck Matemba said the uprightness of the convict eroded the moment he embarked on the bribery project and sought a custodial sentence.

He sought a custodial sentence that “will reflect to all Malawians that we should not try to defeat the course of justice.”

On Feb. 3, 2020, Malawi’s constitutional court annulled the May 21, 2019 presidential polls and eventually fresh elections were held after which current President Lazarus Chakwera assumed office on June. 23, 2020.

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