Former NHIF boss Kerich acquitted in Sh116m corruption case

Former NHIF boss Richard Kerich. [Courtesy]

Anti-corruption Court in Nairobi on Friday acquitted former National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) boss Richard Kerich in an Sh116 million alleged fraud case.

Milimani Magistrate Esther Nyutu in her judgment observed that the state had not proved that Kerich, former NHIF officials Marwa Chacha, and David Kipruto Chingi and two Meridian Medical Centre Limited directors Peter Wambugu and Ndiba Wairioko had conspired to defraud the insurer.

At the same time, the magistrate cleared Kerich and Kiprono in a separate charge of abuse of office.

Further, she ruled that there was no evidence to show that Meridian had obtained public funds through falsehood.

“The prosecution has failed to prove that the accused persons conspired to allocate members to Meridian. The allocation was done by an actuarial officer who was not charged,” said Nyutu. 

She however noted that the saga that was investigated by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) was more of negligence than fraud.

According to Nyutu, it was however not explained how four Meridian facilities, Donholm, The Mall in Westlands and Yaya were allocated 30, 092 civil servants and disciplined forces.

The magistrate said that Meridian had 17 facilities. However, it was only four that were accredited.

She noted that even an actuarial scientist who was called as a witness could not ascertain the amount that was alleged to have been lost.

Nyutu’s judgment marked the end of the decade-old trial with jubilation.

The accused persons broke the dead silence with claps and one afforded a slight shout of relief.

When Nyutu rose, Kerich who was initially in a tense state could afford a smile and warm handshake. He was finally free.

Kerich, Kipruto and Chacha were charged with allegedly conspiring to defraud NHIF Sh116 Million.

EACC had alleged that they conspired to defraud NHIF of Sh116,935,500 million by entering into a contract under which the Meridian Medical Centre was to provide services to civil servants and disciplined forces while knowing they had no capacity to provide such services in full.

It claimed that the contract led to massive losses for the parastatal.

However, the magistrate noted that the calculation formula provided in court indicated the amount claimed by the state in the case could not add up. 

The four were charged in 2012 and were out on bail.

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