A Lusaka banker has been jailed for six years with hard labour for theft by servant, fraud and money laundering activities involving over K100,000.
However, two people who were jointly charged with the convict have been acquitted.
This is a matter in which Micheal Mulembe, a former banker at Barclay’s bank, Melinda Mulembe, a house wife and Chris Zulu, a waiter, were facing 55 counts of theft, theft by servant, money laundering and fraudulent false accounting.
Particulars of the offence in count one were that on October 26, 2011, Mulembe being a servant of Barclays Bank Zambia, made false entries in the bank books of accounts purporting to show that the said bank had posted K7,984,333 (old currency) from the profits and loss account into his sister’s account number 1532450, when in fact not.
In count Two, Mulembe on the same day being an employee of Barclays Bank, stole K7,984,333 (old currency), the property of the said employer.
In another count, Mulembe on January 20, 2012 in Lusaka, being a servant to Barclay’s Bank Zambia did steal K10,415,645.31 (old currency) the property of his employer.
In other counts his sister Melinda and Zulu were accused of stealing different amounts of money belonging to Barclays Bank plc.
The three were arrested on May 13, 2012 and the matter was allocated to then Cheif resident magistrate Kenneth Mulife in November, 2014.
The matter was heard over the period of four years.
When the matter came up for judgement, Thursday, High Court judge Kenneth Mulife sitting as magistrate convicted Mulembe and acquitted the other two.
He said he was satisfied that the prosecution had proved all its allegations against Mulembe beyond all reasonable doubt in the 17 counts involving the offence of fraudulent false accounting, 18 counts of theft by servant and one count of money laundering.
He therefore convicted him accordingly and acquitted his co-accused persons saying he was not satisfied that the prosecution had proved it’s allegations of the offence of theft against the two.
“I’m not satisfied that A2 and A3 had participated in the fraud alongside A1 because the duo did not have access to these bank records or computer system due to the fact that they were not employees of the BBZ. Secondly because they are not seen anywhere withdrawing the money. Rather the person withdrawing the money is A1,” he said.
He said Mulembe was the one who withdrew the money from the two accounts, adding that his view that the said Mulembe withdrew the money from the two accounts was based on the CCTV video footage.
“The video footage shoes A1 withdrawing the money from the ATM machines and the times of the withdrawals coincide with the times the money was withdrawn from the second and third accused’s impugned bank accounts,” he said.
“A1 fraudulently included A2 and A3’s bank accounts on the list of accounts earmarked for closure by the bank and he did so knowing that it would be difficult for his superiors to notice the fraud because of the huge number of accounts which he presented to them for approval. Mulembe was fraudulent in his action because he kept on withdrawing the money from the two accounts each time there were deposits.
Magistrate Mulife said Mulembe intended to use the two accounts as a device to continually siphon money from the Small Debits Written Off Account and the Uncollected Income Account Knowing that the accounts belonged to his relatives.
He added that it was for that reason that Mulembe helped the other two accused persons open the two accounts.
“It is more shocking that A2’s account was credited with money from the Small Debits Written Off Account or the Uncollected Income Account on the same day it was opened. It is startling how A2’s account could be opened and only to be earmarked for closure the same day,” he said.
Meanwhile, magistrate Mulife said he was satisfied that the K10,000 that was found in Mulembe’s house was a proceed of his fraudulent activities, adding that Micheal’s assertion that the money was a proceed of sale of his motor vehicle was feeble because there was no proof substantiating the alleged sale.
In his mitigation, Mulembe said he was a first offender and a bread winner who deserved leniency adding that if sent to jail, his family could suffer.
But, magistrate Mulife said the convict could not use his family because he could have thought of his family when committing the offence.
“You deserve some leniency as first offender however I have not taken into account your mitigation as a family man because you were aware that you were a family man even when you were committing these offences. You deserve to be punished because you have exhibited high levels of crookedness of unimaginable proportion,” he said.
Magistrate Mulife then sentenced him to six years imprisonment with hard labour in all the counts.
He further ordered that the K10,000,000 (old currency) be forfeited to the state.