An attempt by two senior Ecobank officials to stop being prosecuted for alleged forgery hit a hurdle yesterday when an application they had lodged at the Constitutional Court was thrown out.
Michael Monari and Wilfred Oroko filed the suit last week to challenge their criminal trial at the Magistrate’s Court.
After their lawyers failed to appear in court to argue the case, Lady Justice Cecilia Githua dismissed the application.
The two had been granted the court’s leave to proceed with the case. However, in a short ruling, Mrs Githua said the prescribed period had expired. By Monday, the two had not filed relevant court papers as directed by the court.
Mr Monari and Mr Oroko were arraigned before the anti-corruption court two week’s ago on alleged forgery charges and were each released on Sh300,000 cash bail.
They are alleged to have procured, on behalf of the bank, the registration of change of title deed to a property belonging to Mohamed Habib without his consent. Mr Monari is the bank’s managing director in Uganda while Mr Oroko is the senior group officer in Lome, Togo.
Before they were charged, the two had attempted to stop their arrest and prosecution but Mr Justice Mohamed Warsame dismissed their application, and in effect gave the Director of Public Prosecutions a go ahead to open criminal charges.
The case will be heard for five consecutive days from August 20 and the prosecution has indicated it will call 20 witnesses. The complaint against the top managers was lodged by businessman Mohamed Abubakar who says they forged the charge and registration of a title of a Nairobi hotel known as Downtown belonging to his family.
The title had been charged to the bank by the late Mohamed Habib after he borrowed a loan of Sh7.5 million. By the time he died in 2007, he had repaid Sh6.5 million. The hotel was later sold on December 15, 2008 to businessman John Kariuki Ngururi for Sh60.5 million and thereafter Mr Abubakar was ordered to pay monthly rent to the new owner.
Mr Abubakar claims the two senior managers signed the charge as directors of the bank and the charge was a clear forgery as Mr Habib had died in June 17, 2007 but the charge was signed and executed on December 31, 2008.
A valuation report put the value of the four-storey building at Sh105 million.