Former NHIF CEO fails to stop Sh1.1bn graft case

Economy

Former NHIF CEO fails to stop Sh1.1bn graft case


mwangi

Former National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) CEO Geoffrey Gitau Mwangi. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

Former National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) chief executive office Geoffrey Mwangi will have to face charges over alleged loss of Sh1.1 billion after the High Court dismissed his petition seeking to terminate the case.

Mr Mwangi had argued that it was unfair and discriminatory to sustain the charges against him yet the Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji had withdrawn the case against Web Tribe Ltd, a company he was accused of conferring a benefit.

The former chief executive argued that withdrawing the charges against the company he is alleged to have conferred a benefit of Sh253 million should have prompted the DPP to terminate the case against him.

Justice Esther Maina dismissed the case saying the DPP has demonstrated that his decision to charge Mr Mwangi is based on sufficient evidence, noting that the decision was not instigated by any other motive other than the interest of the public, to punish corruption.

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“The trial court is best suited to determine the issues of fact raised by counsel for the petitioner of course after hearing the evidence of the witnesses. The constitution and criminal procedure code have provisions which jealously guard the right of an accused person to fair trial and the petitioner need not fear,” the judge said.

The DPP withdrew charges against Jambo pay boss Danson Muchemi and turned him into a witness in the trial. The DPP also terminated charges against Robert Muriithi and Web Tribe ltd, on condition that they cooperate with the prosecution.

Mr Muchemi and Mr Muriithi were charged last year and denied fraudulently receiving more than Sh1.1 billion from NHIF.

Others still facing charges are former NHIF CEO Simeon Kirgotty and NHIF audit committee members Mudzo Nzili, Yussuf Ibrahim and Elly Nyaim, and 14 others over the alleged loss of Sh500 million at NHIF.

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The company was tapped to install an internally managed system which would have cost between Sh400 million and Sh600 million, the contract it signed was for offering a payment solution to NHIF at a fee of between four and 4.5 per cent of collections.

Between 2014 and August this year, when NHIF eventually bought its own stand-alone system to which JamboPay would offer only technical support, up to Sh1 billion had been lost in commission payments.

The DPP while opposing the case maintained that the tender process was flawed from the onset because it was neither provided for in the procurement plan nor the annual budget for 2013/2014. Despite being aware of the flaw, Mr Mwangi went ahead and authorised the payment in his capacity as the general manager finance.

The DPP said he was not obliged to amend the charges because the withdrawal against Web Tribe did not affect the charges against other accused persons. He said the sufficiency of the charges and admissibility of the evidence will be determined by the trial court.

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“It is my finding that he has not demonstrated that the decision to withdraw the charges against Web Tribe amounted to an unfair discrimination or that indeed that the decision is a violation of his rights or fundamental freedoms,” Justice Maina said.

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