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DPP fails in bid to drop charges for two in Sh7bn Triton scam

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Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • In the application, the DPP wants to drop charges against Julius Kyalo Kilonzo and Collin Otieno and use them as State witnesses in other cases related to Triton and in particular Yagnesh Devani.
  • Mr Devani in May lost a decade-old court battle in the United Kingdom where he sought to block his extradition to Kenya.
  • The government has been seeking to bring Mr Devani back to Kenya for years after he fled in the wake of the scandal. He faces 19 fraud charges.

A court in Nairobi has declined a request by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to withdraw fraud charges against two of the seven accused persons in the Sh7 billion Triton scandal involving fugitive oil magnate Yagnesh Devani.

The anti-corruption chief magistrate Lawrence Mugambi said the application by the DPP was abruptly made and directed prosecution counsel Edwin Okello to file a formal application in court.

“There should have been a notice to enable the parties in the case to take instructions from their clients," said the magistrate.

He dismissed claims by the DPP that an objection by some of the defense counsels regarding the withdrawal was premature.

In the application, the DPP wants to drop charges against Julius Kyalo Kilonzo and Collin Otieno and use them as State witnesses in other cases related to Triton and in particular Yagnesh Devani.

But the magistrate said the other accused persons needed to be informed if the two will be called in as witnesses against them.

“In the interest of conducting a fair trial, accused persons need to know if Julius Kilonzo and Collins Otieno will be called in as witnesses against them. I decline to grant the order sought. I direct prosecutor to file a formal application,” the court ruled.

Mr Devani, through his advocate, was opposed to the application.

Mr Devani in May lost a decade-old court battle in the United Kingdom where he sought to block his extradition to Kenya.

Mr Devani, who was a director of Triton Petroleum Limited, is accused of engineering the release of the oil company’s stock of fuel from the Kenya Pipeline Company’s (KPC) storage tanks without informing the financiers.

The action, which took place in 2008, left the financiers with a Sh7.6 billion loss, threatened fuel supplies in Kenya and led to high-level sackings.

The government has been seeking to bring Mr Devani back to Kenya for years after he fled in the wake of the scandal. He faces 19 fraud charges.

In the case, Yagnesh Devani, Mahindra Pathak, Julius Kyalo Kilonzo, Collin Otieno and Triton Petroleum are accused of jointly disposing off 13 million cubic metres of diesel worth Sh32,047,783 without consent of Emirates National Oil Corporation (Singapore).

Others charged are Benedict Mutua, Peter Manono Mecha and Phanuel Silvano. They are all charged with conspiring to defraud a number of petroleum companies by purporting that Triton had diesel ready for sale at KPC storage in Kipevu.

Devani is yet to be charged.