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Seven VIP Anglo Leasing suspects charged

NAIROBI: A former Cabinet minister now serving as senator and six former senior Government officials, Wednesday became the first batch to stand in the dock in a renewed bid to unravel the multi-billion-shilling Anglo Leasing scandal that goes back many years.

Chief Magistrate Hannah Ndung’u also issued an internatinal arrest warrant against two foreigners – Bradley Birkenfeld and Brian Mills – who are linked to the scandal but were not represented in court when the matter came up.

Kisii Senator Chris Obure, former permanent secretaries Dave Mwangi (Provincial Administration), Joseph Magari (Finance) and Sammy Kyungu (Transport) as well as former Postmaster-General Francis Chahonyo were the ones hauled before court and many more are expected to follow, albeit for different charges. Others who were charged were former head of Debt Management Department in the Ministry of Finance Mr David Lumumba Onyonka and Samuel Bundotich, who was a finance officer at the Treasury.

All of them pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The high-profile suspects walked into the court in pairs sandwiched by police officers as the justice system began once again to try and fathom who the ‘ghosts’ that received public money for contracts not serviced were.

The magistrate directed Obure, Chahonyo, Kyungu and Bundotich to deposit Sh1 million each or execute a personal bond of Sh5 million while Mwangi, Magari and Onyonka were ordered to deposit Sh3 million each with an alternative bond of Sh10 million with one surety of a similar amount.

Ndung’u further directed the seven to deposit their travel documents with the court within 14 days and directed that they notify the court whenever they wanted to travel out of the country.

SUPPLY EXHIBITS

The suspects were also instructed by the court to visit the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) offices two weeks from the suit date so as to be supplied with all exhibits and witness statements that the prosecution intends to rely on during the trial.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Keriako Tobiko said the prosecution was not opposed to the accused being released on bond but urged the court to take into consideration the nature of the charges they were facing.

“We are aware that the accused persons have co-operated with investigators over the years whenever they have been summoned. However, now that they have been charged in court, the circumstances have changed and it is a different ball game due to the public interest in the matter,” Keriako submitted.

However, defence lawyers Kioko Kilukumi, Chacha Odera, Kamau Karori and Edward Oonge urged the court to grant the suspects bail.

“The cardinal consideration at this stage is to establish if the accused will turn up for trial. There is no doubt they will attend court for the hearing of the case,” argued Kilukumi.

The court was, however, informed that former Finance minister David Mwiraria, who was supposed to be charged alongside the other suspects, was unwell and had been admitted to Karen Hospital, Nairobi.

VSAT PRODUCTS

The other suspects, who were to be arraigned in court but did not take plea as they were absent include Deepak Kamani, his brother Rashmi Kamani and their father Chamanlal Kamani - all said to be out of the country.

The Kamanis, who have obtained a court order blocking their arrest, are expected to be arraigned in court today while Mwiraria will be charged on March 18.

Mwangi, Magari and Onyonka have been charged with engaging in a project without prior planning contrary to the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act.

The details of the charge state that between October 30 and April 14, 2004, in Nairobi, being persons whose functions involved the management of public revenue, they engaged in the modernisation of police security equipment and accessories project without prior planning.

Obure and Kyungu are accused that on July 8, 2002, as Finance minister and Transport PS respectively, they authorised the Ministry of Transport to directly procure VSAT product from Spacenet without following the laid-down procedures.

Kyungu and Chahonyo were accused of abuse of office where it is alleged that on March 22, 2002, they instituted procurement of VSAT products from Spacenet Inc for Data Network and Rural Internet Services Project for the Postal Corporation without following the laid-down procedure contrary to the law.

Bundotich faced abuse of office and breach of trust charges for “using authority of his office on July 11, 2002, to execute the payment on behalf of the Government and First Mercantile Securities Corporation for the supply of goods.”

The case will be mentioned on March 18.

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