Court jails four former Nairobi County officials for Sh18m fraud

Former Nairobi County Chief Finance Officer Jimmy Kiamba. [File, Standard]

The woes of former Nairobi County Chief Finance Officer Jimmy Kiamba deepened after he was sentenced to cumulative 15 years in jail for conspiring to defraud Sh18 million.

Justice Esther Maina ruled that Kiamba bore the greatest responsibility for using his office inappropriately during the tenure of Nairobi’s first Governor Evans Kidero to authorise illegal payments which led to loss of public funds at City Hall.

“He used his office as a public officer to improperly confer a benefit to another person and as such must be punished for his actions. I have listened to the mitigation and the circumstances of the case and come to the conclusion that the sentence is sufficient,” rule Justice Maina.

The judge found Kiamba guilty of five counts of abuse of office and jailed him for three years in each count bringing the cumulative total to 15 years. He will, however, serve only three years in jail as the sentences will run concurrently.

In the alternative, Justice Maina ordered the former Chief Finance Officer to pay a fine of Sh10.7 million to escape the jail sentence. Kiamba’s co-accused Lilian Wanjiru Ndegwa, who was the Nairobi County Secretary at the time the offence took place in 2014, was also handed a cumulative 12-year jail term or a fine of Sh9.5 million.

Stephen Osiro, former head of Treasury at City Hall, escaped with a fine of Sh1.2 million or three years jail sentence for his role in the scandal while Regina Rotich who also served as a secretary in Dr Kidero’s government was sentenced to six years in jail or pay Sh1.2 million fine.

The four former public officials were convicted for their roles in signing cheques and approving payments totaling Sh17,902,728 without following clear procedure.

Office materials

According to the prosecution, the former officials entered into the secret dealings within a period of one year in which they conspired to approve the payments purporting that they were for purchasing office materials which never took place.

Among the evidence they produced in court were cheques and counterfeit cheques, payments vouchers and imprest forms used by the accused persons to withdraw funds and which were approved by Kiamba and Ndegwa in an irregular and fraudulent manner.

The charges stated that Kiamba and Ndegwa used their offices to approve the payments to Ms Rotich for procuring services to the county government when she was not among the prequalified contractors.

Justice Maina’s decision was the second time the former Nairobi chief finance officer is being punished for using his position to acquire illegal wealth.

Judge Hedwig Ong’udi had previously ordered him to forfeit properties worth Sh318 million he acquired through corruption.

The judge ruled that Kiamba’s properties and huge cash deposits in his accounts were proceeds of economic crimes and constitutes unexplained assets which he accumulated within a period of three years. Among the properties he was ordered to forfeit was a house in Runda Estate, two maisonettes in Nairobi’s South C Estate, several apartments spread across the city, a town house in Kileleshwa and several land parcels in Nairobi, Kajiado and Machakos.