The High Court in Zomba on Thursday failed to sentence convicted businessman and former People’s Party (PP) national governing council (NGC) member Oswald Lutepo.
Lutepo was convicted on his own plea of guilty on charges of conspiracy to defraud government and money laundering of K4.2 billion between April and September 2013.
After the judge adjourned the matter last month, the court was on Thursday expected to hear an application from the State for confiscation and pecuniary orders and sentence hearing.
However, when the state filed an application for postponement of the order the defense counsel objected the submission resulting in a lengthy debate that took almost the whole day.
In the submission, the State through the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mary Kachali argued that it could not go ahead with the order because, among others, there were wide discrepancies on the value of assets which Lutepo declared.
For instance, Kachali said the defense valued Woget Industries at K1 427 000 000.00 while the State put it at K292 585 250.00. But the State said the court must proceed with the sentence.
However, the defense objected to the postponement arguing that confiscation order be made before sentencing because it has a bearing on the sentencing.
Lutepo’s lawyer Oswald Mtupila argued that sentencing his client before the pronouncement of confiscation order would mean double punishment for the convict.
Presiding Judge Redson Kapindu then adjourned the case to August 3 2015 to make a ruling on the submissions which will then determine whether to postpone the confiscation order or not and sentencing.
Lutepo is the seventh person to be convicted on Cashgate related charges since trials began in February 2014, but the highest sentence imposed for money laundering has so far been seven years the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court imposed on civil servant Victor Sithole.
Money laundering attracts a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and K2 million fine while conspiracy to defraud government attracts an imprisonment sentence of three years, according to Section 323 of the Penal Code.