Economy

Court sets free four charged alongside Yagnesh Devani in oil scam

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Businessman Yagnesh Devani and his lawyer Hillary Kiplagat at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi on February 12, 2024. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

A Nairobi court has acquitted four people charged alongside oil tycoon Yagnesh Devani with the theft of fuel worth more than Sh1 billion at the Kipevu Oil Refinery in Mombasa in 2008.

Milimani senior principal magistrate Zainab Abdul freed Samson Waka and Peter Muthungu of KCB Bank, Mahindra Pathak, former finance manager at Triton Petroleum Company Limited and William Mundia for lack of evidence.

The magistrate ruled that the evidence the prosecution tabled was insufficient to sustain the trial or place the four on their defence.

Read: UK deports Triton scam fugitive to Kenya, ending 16-year run

The four had been charged with discounting invoices of Triton at KCB amounting to $12,241,873.90 (Sh1,946,457,950.10) when Triton had not sold any oil.

“I find the prosecution has failed to establish a prima facie case against the four accused persons to warrant the court place them of their defence. I hereby acquit them under section 210 of the Criminal Procedure Code,” ruled Ms Abdul.

The four were tried in the absence of Mr Devani after he fled Kenya in 2008 and only came back after losing an appeal in the UK seeking to stop his extradition.

The bank employees were accused of failing to prevent the theft of Sh1.9 billion belonging to KCB.

Mr Devani was charged last month and denied the charges against him and was freed after posting cash bail of Sh1 million.

On Monday, senior principal magistrate Robinson Ondieki gave the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Renson Ingonga a month to supply Mr Devani with all the evidence he intends to rely on in the multi-billion oil scam.

Appearing before the magistrate on Monday, Mr Devani, who is being defended by lawyer Moses Kurgat, informed the court that the State was yet to furnish him with witness statements and documentary evidence, to be used in the case.

Mr Ondieki allowed the DPP’s request for more time to supply the documents. He directed the case to be mentioned on March 26 for pre-trial directions.

The hearing will commence on April 8, 2024.

Mr Devani was on the run for 16 years until January when he was extradited from Britain and detained at Muthaiga Police Station.

On January 23, police presented him before Mr Ondieki where he denied four charges against him over the irregular sale of petroleum products acquired through loans given to his firm Triton by KCB Bank.

The charges against him stated that Mr Devani committed the offence between April 23 and December 4, 2008, at Kipevu Oil Storage facility in Mombasa, jointly with others who have already been charged.

An alternative count stated that Mr Devani disposed of mortgaged jet fuel, jointly with others, with intent to defraud KCB. The second count stated that he stole 418.134 metric tonnes of motor spirit premium valued at $438,031.10, belonging to KCB Kenya.

Read: Technician in Triton oil scam has case to answer

The tycoon has claimed in a petition pending before the High Court that KCB sold all his assets listed in the deed of settlement, including Karen Cross Road Mall, Lang’ata Road Arcade, Westland Plaza on Waiyaki Way, 60 acres of land in Karen and more than 20 other properties, a majority being petrol stations that belonged to Triton.

It is alleged that he committed the offence on diverse dates between April 23 and December 4 2008 at Kipevu Oil Storage facility, in Mombasa.

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