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Civil servant jailed in Malawi ‘Cashgate’ scandal

November 4, 2014

BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP) — A Malawian court sentenced a junior civil servant to prison on Tuesday in the ongoing financial scandal dubbed “Cashgate” that saw millions of dollars looted from the impoverished country’s government.

A magistrate in the capital, Lilongwe, sentenced Victor Sithole to nine years imprisonment with hard labor, court records said. Sithole, 28, was an accounts assistant in the Malawian government in 2013 when he was found with about $66,000 in cash in American, South African and Malawian currency. An investigation led by then president Joyce Banda revealed that he was one of dozens of civil servants who had siphoned about 24 billion kwacha or $60 million in government funds.

The relatively small southern African nation is home to more than 16 million people, more than half of whom live below the poverty line according to the World Bank. When the scandal was publicized, foreign donors announced that they would freeze aid worth millions of dollars until those responsible were prosecuted.

About 70 civil servants and businessmen are under investigation for charges such as theft, fraud and money laundering. The investigation into the corruption revealed that suspects would hide large sums of cash under beds and in the trunks of cars, even stuffed inside children’s toys in an attempt to avoid banking suspiciously large amounts of money.

Sithole is the second person to be sentenced in the financial scandal. Earlier this year a secretary in Malawi’s tourism department was sentenced to three years in jail.

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