Renowned business mogul Thomson Mpinganjira has spent a first night in prison after his conviction yesterday for attempting to bribe five High
Court judges sitting as a Constitutional Court in the May 21 2019 presidential election petition case.
In Malawi’s history, and as regards the country’s judicial system, Mpinganjira could possibly be the wealthiest businessperson to have been sent to jail, having successfully founded a vibrant FDH Financial Holdings from humble beginnings.
His acumen in the financial industry became too visible for everyone to see, becoming the first Malawian to own a commercial bank.
From all the successes, Mpinganjira is reduced to a convict and holed to Chichiri Prison, and nobody knows for how long he will be there as High
Court judge Dorothy DeGabriela is yet to sentence him after she recorded his mitigating factors yesterday.
This, the conviction alone, as one of his lawyers Patrice Nkhono aptly told the court yesterday in mitigation, is a severe blow to his client, locally and internationally in as far as his business dealings are concerned.
Having successfully put up FDH Financial Holdings, Mpinganjira, who also owns FDH Bank, FDH Money Bureau, the First Discount House, and FDH Stockbrokers, went on to acquire 75 percent stake in the then State-owned Malawi Savings Bank (MSB).
The uniqueness about FDH Group’s operations is that they reach into the far corners of the country with banking services, and the group is on record to have said plans for expansion are underway.
Who is Thomson Mpinganjira?
An alumnus of Zomba Catholic Secondary School, popularly known as Box 2,
Mpinganjira, aged 60 now, made it to the University of Malawi where he graduated in 1984, according to his profile. He moved on, as a chartered accountant, to work for companies such Deloitte & Touche, Blantyre Printing and Publishing Group and CFAO, where he served as senior, and group accountant.
Mpinganjira also worked for the National Bank of Malawi as head of operational risk and security, and it was from there where he seized the opportunity to become the first Malawian stockbroker, and subsequently headed Stockbrokers Malawi Limited.
He set up the Malawi Stock Exchange and served as its first CEO up to May 2002 when he left to set up First Discount House.
From those humble beginnings, FDH Financial Holdings today boosts of over 1 000 well remunerated employees.
Before he retired as FDH Holdings group chief executive officer on September 1 2020, after the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) arrested him for the case he has been convicted of, Mpinganjira has served on, and chaired, several parastatal boards and a number of entities such as Malawi Revenue Authority and Malawi Investment Promotion Agency.
According to his profile, Mpinganjira credits part of his success to his early exposure to business—his father, an accountant, owned and ran a trading company.
Using his wealth, experience and exposure, Mpinganjira aimed to pass on his personal experience and create awareness and offer guidance and inspiration, by speaking at entrepreneur forums and educational institutions—from secondary to postgraduate level—but all such dreams may be shattered.
The FDH Bank Limited in 2014 agreed to provide a multi-million Malawi kwacha sponsorship for the Top of the Class competition organised by the country’s public broadcaster, MBC.The programme was a Malawian household staple in the 1970s.
Mpinganjira had a passion to see local, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) thrive. In 2014, FDH Bank signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Mining for the provision of loans and financial literacy training to small-scale miners.
The partnership held great promise and has already resulted in the FDH Bank organising the first Malawi symposium on Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining
(ASM)—a two-day event which attracted both domestic and international stakeholders.
In 2015, Mpinganjira was decorated with an honorary doctorate degree by Exploits University for his contribution towards the development of the country through his businesses. A staunch supporter for Mighty Wanderers, he has been involved with the club for decades. He had been assisting Wanderers financially before his appointment as the club’s president in July. When the club registered Mighty Wanderers Football Club 2021 as a limited company, he naturally became the favourite among the rank and file at Wanderers to spearhead the club’s commercialization drive.
Mpinganjira was married to Barbara, who died on January 4 2019. Together, they had two children—William—a renowned banker now trying to fit in the big shoes of his father and Chikondi Annabel, and grandchildren.
William, who holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and accounting, a master of international business and another master of banking and finance degree from Bangor Business School, Wales, actually replaced his father as FDH group CEO.
The man who has been judged to have been on the wrong arm of the law has been recognised as one of the world’s leading and most successful professionals. His name was included in Madison’s ‘Who’s Who’ of professionals in March 2006. He has been listed continuously to date and also appears in Sterling Who’s Who for excellent performance and achievement.
Mpinganjira’s vision, according to his profile, was to leave a legacy that will outlive him and generations to come—setting the pace for Malawians, a vision that has been realised through the growth of FDH Financial Holdings Limited and its subsidiaries.