Malawi: Court Adjourns Sentencing Submissions Hearing for Chinese Convicts Who Laundered Mk500m

The Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate Court on Friday 10th March, 2023, adjourned to 21st March, 2023, hearing of the sentencing submissions for three Chinese nationals accused of serious money laundering in excess of MK500 million (about $500,00), among other charges.

The three–Li Hao Yuan, Hua Qin Zhang and Huixin Lin–promptly pleaded guilty to the charges on 31st January, 2023, as part of plea bargaining, which also includes restituting the money they laundered.

The Chinese were accused alongside a Srilankan national Kankanige Piyaratana Alwis who, with Huixin Lin, face another charge of dealing in foreign currency. But the Srilankan pleaded guilty to all the charges levelled against him.

The court adjourned hearing of the sentencing submissions for the Chinese after their lawyers stated that the convicts raised new issues in the submissions. They asked for seven more days to prepare.

The court, on the other hand, has not proceeded hearing the cases of Kankanige Piyaratana Alwis as the state is yet to bring the 10 witnesses it has lined up against him.

The money laundering case involving the three Chinese and a Srilankan has dragged, with the parties now hoping for a conclusion soon.

According to the charge sheet Nyasa Times has seen, the first charge of money laundering is contrary to section 42 (1) (b) of the Financial Crimes Act and reads:

“Lin Huixin, Li Hao Yuan and Hua Qin Zhang between 1st September 2017 and 26th November 2020, in the City of Lilongwe, disguised the true nature of the sum of K379, 408, 048.79 knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe that the same represents proceeds of crime by depositing and transacting with the said cash through account number 9100000342170 of Moni International Limited domiciled at Standard Bank Malawi, Capital City Branch”.

The second charge of money laundering is contrary to section 42 (1) (a) of the Financial Crimes Act states:

“Lin Huixin, Kankanige Anura Piyaratana Alwis, Li Hao Yuan and Hua Qin Zhang between 5th December 2017 and January 2021, at Marina Casino in the City of Lilongwe, converted K128, 590,518.00 into gambling chips knowing or having reason to believe that it directly or indirectly derived from the proceeds of crime”.

On the other hand, the offence of dealing in foreign currency read as follows: “Lin Huixin and Kankanige Anura Piyaratana Alwis between 1 January 2019 and 11th June 2021, in the City of Lilongwe, without the permission of the Minister of Finance, exchanged foreign currency with each other amounting to United States Dollars 310, 000.00”.

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