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Seven Kebs officials charged with Sh12.79 million fraud

By Anne Otieno | May 27th 2020

From left: Kenya Bureau of Standards officials Florence Awino, Catherine Nangila, Daniel Onuko and Linet Bitengo take plea before Senior Principal Magistrate Robinson Ondieki in connection with Sh12.79 million fraud case, in Kisumu, yesterday. [Anne Atieno, Standard]

Seven senior Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) employees have been charged with defrauding the agency of Sh12.79 million.

However, only four took plea at Kisumu Law Courts yesterday. Warrants of arrest were issued for those who failed to appear in court.

One suspect had the warrant of arrest withdrawn after her lawyer produced medical documents in court to prove that she was unwell.

Those who took plea are former Kisumu Principal Quality Assurance Officer Florence Awino, Principal Market Surveillance Officer Catherine Nangila, Daniel Onuko, regional accountant and Linet Bitengo, accountant, all based at the Kisumu Kebs lake region offices at the time of the offence.

Awino, Nangila, Onuko, Bitengo, Erick Kibet, Rose Wangui and Jackline Njeri faced 10 other counts of false accounting, stealing by servant and abuse of office and negligence of official duty.

Failing to verify

They appeared before Senior Principal Magistrate Robison Ondieki where they denied the charges.

According to the charge sheet, the seven are alleged to have conspired to defraud the government of Sh12.79 million by depositing the money into an operations account at National Bank instead of the bank’s revenue account.

They committed the offence between July 1, 2017 and October 31, 2018 at the Kisumu Kebs offices.

In the second count, they were charged with allegedly issuing a false statement of the amount they received.

“And used in the cash book for Kenya Bureau of Standards account number 01003023626100 held at National Bank of Kenya during the period between July 1, 2017 and October 31, 2018,” the charge sheet stated in part.

In the third count the suspects were charged with allegedly coming into possession of the money by virtue of being Kebs employees in the Ministry of Trade and Industrialisation.

The seven were also charged with abuse of office in the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, 9th and 10th counts.

Njeri, Awino and Nangila were charged with allegedly signing 22 cheques in the fourth, fifth and sixth counts for the withdrawal of the money from the Kebs operation account 01003023626100 held at National Bank of Kenya, Kisumu Branch, an abuse of the authority of their offices.

Onuko and Bitengo, in the seventh and eighth counts, were charged with allegedly  authorising 35 cheques meant for revenue, which was to be deposited at the company’s operations account.

Wangui was charged with allegedly failing to verify reconciliation documents for cashbook and account statements of the Kebs lake region operation account number.

The court issued warrant of arrest for Kibet and Wangui.

Njeri’s advocate Murioki Kanyiri told the court that she developed fever after being released from police custody on May 23.

Advocates Kanyiri, Richard Onsongo and Kevin Lugano, who represented Njeri, Onuko, Awino, Nangila and Bitengo, prayed that their clients be released on reasonable bond terms.

Mr Ondieki released Awino, Nangila, Onuko and Bitengo on Sh3 million bond.

State prosecutor Sylvester Thuo appealed to the court to restrict the four from accessing their offices, stating that they were crime scenes.

The court ordered that the four be restrained from accessing their offices for a period of 14 days.

Ondieki stated that Njeri, Kibet and Wangui would take plea on June 3.

The case of the other four suspects will be heard on June 10.

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