The former director-general of the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra), Pavel Oimeke, has been sentenced to three years in jail or a Sh1 million fine after he was found guilty of receiving a Sh200,000 bribe to reopen a shuttered petrol station.
Anti-Corruption Court senior principal magistrate Peter Ooko, who convicted and sentenced Mr Oimeke over the graft charges, said that the ex-energy regulator had betrayed the trust bestowed upon him as a civil servant.
Penalising Mr Oimeke, Mr Ooko said civil servants must at all times discharge their public duties without indulging themselves in corrupt deals as it soils and paints a grim picture of the government.
The court heard that Mr Oimeke had requested a Sh500,000 bribe via a text on the Signal message app.
Anti-corruption officials seized thousands of shillings handed to him by a petroleum dealer, Wycliffe Odhiambo, after laying a trap for him at his office on December 12, 2020.
Mike Mbuvi, an Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) officer, told the court that they arrested him after he received the money at his office in Upper Hill, Nairobi.
The EACC officials had armed the complainant with a recording device to capture their conversation with Mr Oimeke.
The EACC officer produced in court the money seized as exhibits in the case.
Mr Ooko ruled the prosecution had proved beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Oimeke received the Sh200,000 by producing electronic evidence and a transcript of the conversation between Mr Oimeke and the complainant.
“I hereby acquit the accused on the first count of demanding a bribe of Sh500,000. I, however, find him guilty of the second count of receiving a bribe of Sh200,000. I convict him accordingly,” the magistrate ruled.
Mr Odhiambo had reported to EACC that Mr Oimeke had demanded a bribe for him to authorise the reopening of a fuel station in Oyugis, Homa Bay County, that had been shut down over tax violations.
The station had been closed by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) for selling fuel meant for export. The station owners were fined Sh309,842 by KRA and issued a clearance letter for Mr Oimeke to authorise the station's opening.
In mitigation, Mr Oimeke pleaded for mercy saying he regrets the offence and is remorseful. He said as a result of the incident he lost his job.
“He is now conscious of the actions and pleads with this court to exercise leniency while passing sentence,” his lawyer told the court.
Mr Oimeke's return to the Epra office after his arrest in December 2020 led to a split in the board which tapped one of its members, Daniel Kiptoo, to replace him.
Mr Oimeke resigned in March 2021 and joined politics, becoming the Member of Parliament for Bonchari Constituency, Kisii County, during a by-election in May of the same year.
He lost the seat in the August 2022 general election.