Why Wario, Soi got different fines, sentences over Rio fiasco

NATIONAL |

Former Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario (right) and a former senior sports official Stephen Soi at anticorruption court in Milimani on Thursday, September 16, 2021 when they were sentenced in connection with the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. [Collins Kweyu,Standard]

In 2016, the Government pumped more than Sh500 million to support the Kenyan team that was heading to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

What was a fairy tale championship in Brazil where Kenyan athletes emerged top of Africa and position 15 overall was overshadowed by the worst sports scandal where the team officials took advantage to pocket millions of shillings at the expense of the athletes.

The then team Kenya Captain Wesley Korir complained that the athletes were subjected to poor treatment, the team’s kits going missing, poor travel arrangements and lack of motivation which almost made some athletes withdraw from the games.

While the team was complaining, the officials hatched a plot to justify expenditure of the huge amount allocated by the government.

Anti-Corruption Court Chief Magistrate Elizabeth Juma found that the Team Kenya officials hurriedly booked air tickets which were later cancelled; overpaid allowances to undeserving team officials and carried people to Brazil who were not part of the team.

The two men who were at the helm of preparing the team to Brazil, former Sports CS Hassan Wario and the games Head of Mission Stephen Soi took the bullet for the Rio Olympics Fiasco when the magistrate handed them a combined fine of Sh119 million or a combined jail sentence of 18 years.

Wario escaped with the least sentence of a fine of Sh3.6 million failure to which he serves a combined three years in jail for the three counts of abuse of office in which he was found guilty. Soi was, however, not lucky as he bore the greatest responsibility and was fined a total of Sh115.8 million failure to which he serves a combined total of 15 years in jail.

“Although the two convicts did not directly benefit from the misuse of public funds, their actions led to loss of taxpayers’ money which would have been used in a more beneficial project to the public,” ruled Juma.

The magistrate ruled that Wario and Soi’s action brought shame to the country and that the complaints by the athletes of their mistreatment in Rio was just the tip of the iceberg of what turned out to be the Rio Fiasco.

She stated that it was embarrassing that Wario and Soi failed to provide leadership as expected of them and that although the team managed to post good performance in Rio, their actions led to loss of huge amount of public money.

Soi, a retired senior police officer, got the heaviest punishment as the Chef de Mission for Team Kenya to Rio 2016 Olympics having been found guilty of six counts. In the first count where he was found guilty of failing to comply with procedures of managing public funds by authorizing cancellation of air tickets amounting to Sh9,795,000, the magistrate fined him twice the amount (Sh19.5 million) or serve three years in jail.

He was also fined Sh39 million being the double amount for authorizing the purchase of unutilized air tickets amounting to Sh19.5 million of three years in jail and another Sh30.6 million double the amount for approving payment of Sh15.3 million as allowances to Team Kenya officials.

Soi was fined another Sh10.6 million which was twice the amount of Sh5.3 million he paid to National Olympic Committee of Kenya officials or serve three years in jail and Sh10 million being the double amount of Sh5 million he overpaid for the air tickets to Brazil.

The magistrate ordered him to pay another Sh3.8 million as the double amount for the Sh1.9 million he paid to Kipchoge Keino and Francis Kinyili as allowances in addition to another Sh1.8 million as fine for the six counts he was found guilty. Soi’s total fines for the six counts amounted to Sh114 million failure to which he will serve a combined total of 15 years in jail.

“As the head of the Olympics Committee, he drew an exaggerated budget and through his conduct worked towards spending the money without following proper procedure. His action led to the loss of government funds which would have been used to benefit the public,” ruled Juma.

For Wario, his lenient sentence of Sh3.6 million was for being found him guilty in three counts of abuse of office in which he included three people, Adan Omar, Richard Abura and Monica Sairo into the Rio 2016 Olympic Games delegation when they were not part of Team Kenya.

For the three counts, Wario was fined Sh300,000 each totaling Sh900,000 and another Sh2.7 million being twice the amount of Sh1,350,000 paid as allowance to the three individuals. In default, he was sentenced to one year in prison in each of the count bringing the total to three years.

“He used his position as the CS to arbitrarily include the three individuals in the Kenyan delegation when they were not part of the team which led to loss of public funds,” ruled Juma. The convictions came as a bitter pill to Wario whose rise to the top of the Sports Ministry came tumbling down and shattered his hopes of being Kenya’s ambassador to Austria where he had been appointed in 2018.

pogemba@standardmedia.co.ke

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