The High Court in Lilongwe has jailed contractor Godfrey Dzanjalimodzi in charged related to money laundering of K338 million (about $610 000) during the infamous 2013 “cashgate” corruption scandal period.
Judge Ivy Kamanga convicted Dzanjalimodzi of both charges of theft and laundering K338 million between April and September 2013 when he personally deposited five cheques into an account belonging to WG Construction then electronically transferred the money into his personal account.
During court proceedings of the case, the State proved that Dzanjalimodzi was the only one who had the password to the electronic banking facility of the company’s account and did not entertain questions from fellow directors when they queried the unusual movements in the account.
The court also quashed Dzanjalimodzi’s argument that his friend Andrew Chilembwe just used his company’s account to register with the Accountant General for payment for construction works he did for Ministry of Tourism, describing him as an educated man who should not have been so easily duped.
“The accused is a scholar, educated and studied in the United Kingdom where he obtained a degree in surveying. He was conversant with the laws and procedures governing the construction system. Surely, he appears to be more than an ordinary Malawian who couldn’t have foolishly trusted Chilembwe based on past relationship and trust,” Kamanga said in his ruling.
She added: “Going by his conduct with fellow directors, he was a willing participant in defrauding government. I am satisfied that WG Construction account was used to steal government money as appearing in the charge sheet and I find the accused guilty as charged.”
On the charge of money laundering, Kamanga said the act of banking the cheques in the company’s dormant bank account then transferring them into his personal account was an act of money laundering.
Passing the sentence, Judge Kamanga said the court considered the gravity of the case as the country is currently suffering from the consequences of the convict’s conduct adding that the money he stole from government could have better been used for some important developmental works.
She said: “The court agrees with the State that the offences committed by the convict are serious considering that the society is suffering from this conduct. The money that he stole could have been used by government in developing this country.”
Businessmen and politicians are alleged to have colluded with civil servants to make payments for goods and services that were never delivered christened as Cashgate.
Justice Kamanga senteced Dzanjalimodzi to serve eight years in jail.
Senior Assistant Chief State Advocate Dziko Malunda said “justice has been served.”
The arrest of Accounts assistant Victor Sithole in August 2013 – now serving jail after he was found guilty of stealing more than $66,000 in cash- kick-started what became known as the “cashgate” affair – the worst financial scandal in the country’s history.
It became public knowledge a month later following the shooting of the finance ministry’s then budget director Paul Mphwiyo.