A former Kenya Pipeline Company Managing Director Charles Kiprotich Tanui became the latest casualty in the multi-million shillings scandals that has hit the state corporation.
Tanui was charged alongside four KPC employees and two directors of a company alleged to have irregularly received Sh644 million for the supply of hydrant valves, a cost which the prosecution said was almost two times above the budgeted price.
The KPC staff were Philip Kimelu, Bramwel Juma, Charles Ouko and Fredrick Ogenga while John Huba and Beryl Aluoch were charged as directors of Aero Dispenser Valves Ltd.
Anti-corruption court magistrate Felix Kombo while releasing them on bail appeared to be taking a swipe at critics who have been demonising the judiciary for granting lenient bail terms, stating that they are just following what the constitution says on the rights of the accused.
“Article 49 of the Constitution obliges the court to release accused persons on reasonable bail terms, the court is only required to do a balancing act of the right of the accused to stand fair trial and to upheld their dignity until proven guilty,” ruled Kombo.
According to the magistrate, bail should not be excessive as to deny the accused their rights but should take into considerations their circumstances that will ensure that both their rights and public interest are protected.
He released Tanui, Huba and Aluoch on a cash bail of Sh1 million each while Kimelu, Juma, Ouko and Ogenga were each released on a cash bail of Sh500, 000.
Seven other KPC employees Francis Githaiga, Samwel Odoyo, Nicholas Gitobu, Peter Gaitho, Jane Nakodony, Charles Nderitu, and Emilio Mwai were charged on Tuesday with the same offence.
According to the charge sheet, they conspired with two companies Aero Dispenser Valves Ltd and Allied Inspection and Testing Ltd to inflate the cost of supply and maintenance of hydrant valves from the budgeted amount of Sh390 million to Sh644 million.
“Between October 2014 and July 2015 being employees of KPC, private persons and limited liability companies jointly conspired to defraud KPC USD6,441,700 (Sh644,170,000) for the supply of Cla Val Model Hydrant Pit Valves with under hydrant valves and two years maintenance spares,” read the charge sheet.
The two company’s directors faced additional charges of engaging in a fraudulent practice to siphon public funds from KPC and unlawfully acquiring public property. They were also said to have failed to pay taxes to the Kenya Revenue Authority from their businesses amounting to over Sh25 million.
The charges were a culmination of a tough week at KPC which also saw outgoing Managing Director Joe Sang and several senior managers being charged with conspiracy to defraud Sh1.9 billion from the corporation.
Others charged over the scandal for the tender for construction of Kisumu Oil Jetty were Company Secretary Gloria Khafafa, Manager Supply Chain Vincent Cheruiyot, Manager Infrastructure Billy Aseka and Procurement Manager Nicholas Gitobu.