Friday, October 16, 2015

Jail Terms Of Up To 20 Years For Mozambique Education Ministry Theft

The Maputo City Court on Thursday sentenced eight people to prison terms of between one and 20 years for their part in a fraud which had diverted 33 million meticais (about 825,000 US dollars at current exchange rates) from the coffers of the Ministry of Education between 2008 and 2011.Much of the money was stolen by duplicating the Ministry’s wages sheets, taking advantage of the transition from manual to electronic payment of wages. According to the prosecution, the corrupt officials put the names of staff who were already receiving their wages electronically onto the list of those whose wages were still processed manually.These extra wages, prosecuting attorney Tacia Martins told the court, were then drained into nineteen bank accounts which had nothing to do with the Ministry.The fraudulent scheme also involved the names of 43 Cuban teachers hired by the Ministry. The prosecution claimed that the wages for these teachers continued to be processed, even after their contracts had expired and they had returned to Cuba.The longest sentence, 20 years, was imposed on Abilio Mathe, former head of the Administration and Finance Department of the Education Ministry. His accomplice, Suado Mahande, who worked in the wages division, was sentenced to 14 years.The court found that Carlos Acacio and Alfine Ibrahimo had allowed their bank accounts, and those of their relatives, to be used for criminal and fraudulent purposes. Some of the stolen money was deposited in their accounts, and they did not raise the alarm. They were therefore guilty of covering up the crimes committed by Mathe and Muhande, and were each sentenced to four years.Four other accused, Maria Acacio, Iva Pedro, Tuta Pedro and Rachid Aly were sentenced to between one and two years imprisonment, converted into fines.Two of the accused, Chongo Vidigal and Admira Jorge, were acquitted, since the prosecution was unable to prove their involvement in the theft. The criminals did try to use Vidigal’s account, and deposited 500,000 meticais of the stolen money into it. But he did not withdraw it, and the money is being returned to the Ministry. One key figure in the fraudulent scheme, according to the prosecution, was José Sende, the man in charge of processing the Ministry’s wages. He was not in the dock because he has disappeared and his current whereabouts are unknown.

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