Rio Olympics scandal: Hassan Wario gets six years in prison, Stephen Soi 10

Former Sports CS Hassan Wario (right) at anti-corruption court in Milimani, Nairobi for sentencing. [Emmanuel Too, Standard]

Former Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario has been sentenced to a six-year jail term or pay a fine of Sh3.6 million over his involvement in the 2016 Rio Olympics scandal.

His co-accused Stephen Soi (who headed the Kenyan team to the Olympics at the time) has been sentenced to a 10-year jail term or a fine of Sh103 million over misuse of public funds.

The two appeared before Anti-Corruption Court Chief Magistrate Elizabeth Juma at Milimani, Nairobi on Thursday, September 16.

They were on Wednesday, September 15, found guilty of corruption, abuse of office and misuse of public funds during the 2016 Olympic Games held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

In her ruling, Juma said that issues arose in the manner which tickets to attend the Olympics were raised and quickly cancelled, distribution of allowances to delegates and unutilized tickets.

They have been granted 14 days to appeal the decision.

“The sureties are hereby discharged, if at all, and the cash bail be refunded to the depositors,” Magistrate Juma said.The magistrate said Soi, regarded as the principal offender, and Wario owed a responsibility to the public to ensure that funds were utilised transparently.

“The offences have been proven beyond reasonable doubt, and a sentence proportionate to the offences should be given,” the Prosecution said.

But Wario’s lawyer Roger Sagana, seeking a non-custodial offence and fine for his client, argued that Wario was a remorseful offender.

“The first offender (Wario) is a changed man. He has remained a law-abiding citizen after the events of 2016 and is receptive to rehabilitation,” Sagana submitted.

He told court that the former CS is not a threat to the community and has no pending charges. “The offender has been sufficiently punished,” his lawyer Sagana said.  

Anti-Corruption Court Chief Magistrate Elizabeth Juma. [Emmanuel Too, Standard]

Lawyer Joel Bosek, representing former National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) official Stephen Soi, argued that his client was not acting alone when making approvals for the allowances to attend the Rio Olympics.

“There were other people involved,” the court heard.

On Wednesday, September 15, court held the Prosecution had proven Wario had a role in the embezzlement of Sh55 million allocated to the National Olympic Committee of Kenya.

A report compiled by an investigation team led by Dean of Students at Strathmore University, Paul Ochieng in 2016, revealed that at least Sh88.6 million was reported to have been embezzled.

The money had been earmarked to buy air tickets for team members but was instead taken by unidentified ministry officials.

Ex-CS Wario was then charged alongside Haron Komen Chebet, who served as Director of Administration and Patrick Kimithi Nkabu, Richard Tirus Ekai, Stephen Kiptanui Soi and Francis Kanyili Paul.