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NHIF boss, director to be charged over loss of millions

By Everlyne Kwamboka and Roselyne Obala | November 25th 2018 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

NHIF Headquarters in Nairobi.

The Director of Public Prosecutions Saturday recommended that top officials at the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) be charged following their arrest on Friday evening over a multimillion-shilling scam.

The parastatal’s Chief Executive Officer Geoffrey Mwangi and Finance Director Wilbert Kurgat will be arraigned in court tomorrow after the DPP approved their prosecution.

Eleven other individuals are being investigated over the loss of billions of shillings at the Fund.

Defeat justice

On Friday, Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti told the Standard that the loss of public funds at the insurer could reach Sh1 billion.

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In a statement, DPP Noordin Haji recommended that the fund’s CEO and his director of Finance will be charged with conspiracy to defeat justice and disobedience of lawful orders.

According to the DPP, between September 26 and 27, an investigation team, led by Chief Inspector of Police Nephat Marubu, conducted searches at the offices and private residences of senior NHIF officers where several documents were recovered and retained by the officers.

“During the course of the investigations, several statements have been recorded from NHIF staff and other entities in connection with the ongoing investigations,” reads a statement from the DPP.

The statement says despite service of court orders to Mwangi and Kurgat and after numerous visits by Marubu to their offices, they refused to surrender payment vouchers and other books of evidential value in relation to payments for hundreds of millions of shillings to Webtribe Limited.

“The DCI officers have been denied access to several crucial documents by Geoffrey Gitau and Wilbert Kurgat. The investigations conducted by DCI have revealed that the two individuals have jointly conspired to obstruct the course of justice by denying the DCI officers access to the crucial documents,” reads the statement.

Lawful orders

“I have reviewed the file submitted by DCI and upon consideration of the evidence on record, I am satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to support the charges of conspiracy to defeat justice and disobedience of lawful orders,” Haji said.

The NHIF Director of Information Technology, Gilbert Kamau, is also among those under probe in relation to payments to Webtribe Limited.

Others who could appear in court are Director of Strategy, Planning and Marketing Nichodemus Odongo, Director Corporate Services Dinah Kirwa, Registration Compliance and Operations Manager Gibson Kamau and Procurement Officer Johnstone Ouma. Hannah Muriithi, Grace Kimani, Naomi Aluoch, Gilbert Osoro, Kimlwon Chesaina and Abdul Galgalo of Munishram International Business System have also been named by the DPP.

In the statement, the DPP alludes to the frustration investigating officers went through as they investigated the case.

“The DCI officers have been denied access to several documents by Mr Mwangi and Mr Kurgat. The investigations conducted by DCI, have revealed that the two individuals have jointly conspired to obstruct the cause of justice by denying the DCI officers access to the crucial documents,” he says.

The investigators had obtained orders from Resident Magistrate Sinkiyan Tobiko on September 25 allowing them to search and inspect offices, private residences and business premises of top NHIF officials.

Another search was conducted at the head office on September 28 and several documents were recovered and retained. “During the cause of investigations several statements have been recorded from NHIF staff and other entities with the on-going investigations,” the DPP said.

As those recommended for prosecution are charged in court tomorrow, the DCI seeks to acquire the production for scrutiny any such book or books of evidential value and conduct server system audit, imaging of the fund servers and carry any material evidence.

Relevant evidence

They also seek to carry away any computer and electronic gadget that are of relevant evidence and to retrieve any electronic evidence from any computer of gadget.

Mwangi and Kurgat will spend their third night in the cells at Nairobi’s Muthaiga Police Station.  

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