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Ex-Sports minister Wario slapped with Sh3.6m fine in Sh55m Rio fiasco

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Former Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario (right) and ex-National Olympics Committee of Kenya official Stephen Soi at the Anti-Corruption Court in Milimani on September 16, 2021. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

The anti-corruption court has convicted former Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario to a six-year jail term for abusing his office in connection to the Sh55 million Rio 2016 Olympics scandal.

The court, however, gave Mr Wario an option of paying a fine of Sh3.6 million in a ruling that the former CS has celebrated. Asked for reaction, Mr Wario described the verdict as “excellent” while using a thumbs-up gesture amid moderate celebrations at the court.

He could be seen hugging those who had accompanied him to court before being whisked away to the holding cell as his relatives process the committal order and deposit the fine.

Unlucky

His co-accused was not as lucky.

Stephen arap Soi, the former National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Noc-K) official, who was the Chef De Mission of Team Kenya at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil, was slapped with a Sh105 million fine or serve 12 years in jail.

The two were on Wednesday found guilty of three and six offences, respectively, in relation to siphoning of millions of shillings meant for athletes who competed in the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil.

Mr Wario was convicted for abusing his office by improperly conferring benefits to three people in the delegation that travelled to Rio in July 2016.

Mr Soi, on his part, was found guilty of six counts of willful failure to comply with applicable procedures and guidelines relating to the management of public funds and abuse of office.

“It is true both Mr Wario and Mr Soi did not receive benefits but the budgets were from the government. The excess of Sh500 million contributed by the government is a huge amount of taxpayers’ money that could have been used in other activities,” said the chief magistrate Elizabeth Juma.

Evidence tabled in court by the 22 prosecution witnesses showed that Mr Soi being the Chef De Mission of Team Kenya in the Olympic games unlawfully approved payment in excess of $151,500 as allowances to the members of the team.

He also authorised the cancellation of air tickets resulting in a loss of Sh9.7 million public funds. In addition, he unlawfully authorised the purchase of unutilised air tickets amounting to Sh19.5 million and allowed payment of Sh4.9 million for the air tickets, which resulted in the loss of public funds.

On abuse of office, Mr Soi was found guilty of conferring a benefit of Sh1.9 million to Hezekiah Kipchoge Keino and Francis Kinyili Paul.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with reactions in court.