Africa

Malawi top court sentences businessman to 9 years for attempting to bribe judges

Court finds Thom Mpinganjira attempted to influence judges to rule in favor of ex-president in 2019 election case

Moses Michael-Phiri   | 05.10.2021
Malawi top court sentences businessman to 9 years for attempting to bribe judges Malawi business tycoon Thom Mpinganjira leaves the High Court after his sentencing on Tuesday, Oct. 5 2021 in Blantyre, Malawi. Photo: Moses Michael Phiri, Anadolu Agency

BLANTYRE, Malawi

Malawi’s high court sentenced businessman Thom Mpinganjira to nine years for attempting to bribe five constitutional court judges who were hearing a 2019 election case.

Judge Dorothy DeGabriele said the offenses against Mpinganjira were a serious felony and it was wrong for the businessman to use his fortune to pervert the course of justice.

“Under these circumstances, the offences committed were aggravated and this court will not impose a non-custodial sentence,” DeGabriele said while handing down the sentence.

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

He was charged with six counts under the Corrupt Practices Act and was convicted on Sept. 10.

The business mogul is reported to have offered judges a parcel containing 100 million Malawian kwacha, or $120,000.

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

One of Mpinganjira’s lawyers, Patrice Nkhono, told Anadolu Agency, that he will appeal the sentence and conviction to the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal.

“We will also be applying for bail pending the appeal,” said Nkhono.

State prosecutor Reyneck Matemba said he is glad that justice has finally prevailed.

Matemba said the prosecuting team faced numerous attempts on their lives just as they faced highly sophisticated attempts to derail and delay the case.

“Investigating and prosecuting this case required personal commitment, sacrifices, and courage on the part of everyone involved from investigators, the prosecution team, witnesses to the trial judge,” he said.

On Feb. 3, 2020, Malawi's constitutional court annulled the May 21, 2019, presidential elections. New elections were held and current President Lazarus Chakwera assumed office June. 23, 2020.

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