Several accused persons in the Sh4.1 billion fraud at the Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA) Mall in Kisumu could walk free after the prosecution said they intend to drop charges against them.
Special prosecutor James Kihara informed the court that after reviewing the case file, he noted that there was no evidence linking some of the accused to the matter and recommended to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji to withdraw charges.
“The team handling the case has gone through the evidence and realised that some of the accused should not have been charged and should have been treated as prosecution witnesses. We sent a recommendation to the DPP to withdraw the charges against them,” said Mr Kihara.
Kihara asked anti-corruption court chief magistrate Douglas Ogoti for more time for the DPP to decide who will be set free from the list of 19 accused persons and to draft a new charge sheet reflecting the changes.
Those facing the charges are Bobasi MP Innocent Momanyi, former Kisumu County Assembly Speaker Onyango Oloo, LBDA Managing Director Peter Abok and Edermann Properties Ltd directors Zhang Jing and John Zeyun Yang.
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Others are LBDA board of directors' George Odawa, Anthony Kiprono, David Oyosi, John Mango, John Onyango, Boniface Simba, William Omoding, Jimmy Nabwera, Alex Mukabwa, Mary Micheka, Kennedy Musebe, Michael Obora, Joash Odhiambo, Dennis Mulaa and Josiah Okumu.
Also charged are LBDA tender committee members Anthony Kisaka, Nelson Onyango, Henry Odindo, Emmanuel Songoro, Moses Wekesa and Godfrey Mwangi.
The prosecution’s case is that the suspects conspired to defraud the public of funds by inflating the cost of constructing the mall from Sh2.4 billion to Sh4.1 billion.
According to the charge sheet, the scandal began when the tender evaluation committee awarded the contract to Edermann Properties Ltd despite the fact that it did not meet the requirements.
The prosecution stated that the tender committee made the recommendations to the LBDA board of directors who went ahead to award the contract through inflated costs and allegedly received kickbacks totalling Sh1.2 billion.
They were further accused of conspiring to defraud LBDA of Sh667,275,202 in respect to the tender for construction, development and financing of the mall.
Mr Abok and Mr Oyosi faced another charge of failing to comply with procurement rules by signing the contract with Edermann Properties Ltd before the lapse of 14 days of awarding the contract.
Mr Oloo was accused of failing to disclose that he was a legal consultant for Edermann Ltd and participated in the decision to award it the contract.
The magistrate gave the prosecution 10 days to decide the fate of those they intend to discharge. The case will be heard on December 1.