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DPP gets court nod to tweak charges against Triton staff

Triton service station
Triton service station in Nairobi 10 years ago. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

A court has allowed the director of public prosecutions (DPP) to amend charges filed 10 years ago against four senior employees of Triton Petroleum Company Limited and Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) at the centre of a billion-shilling oil scandal that led to huge losses for a leading commercial bank.

Triton, whose managing director Yagnesh Mohanlal Devani is still holed up in Britain, had secured a Sh1.2 billion facility from KCB Group and arbitrarily disposed of billions of tonnes of petroleum products without the lender’s consent.

Senior principal magistrate Kennedy Cheruiyot has now allowed the DPP to amend charges brought against three senior employees of Triton — Julius Kilonzo, Collins Otieno and Mahendra Pathak — and senior KPC staffer Benedict Mutua who faces six counts of abuse of office and neglect of official duty.

Allowing the plea by State prosecutor Edwin Okello, Mr Cheruiyot said: “The law allows the DPP to amend charges any time before delivery of judgement.”

March 19

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The magistrate allowed the amended charges as well as giving the suspects the go-ahead to consult with their counsel before the case resumes on March 19.

“I note this case began 10 years ago and only 10 witnesses have testified,” he said, adding that he wants to determine it by June before the 10 years are over.

The magistrate directed Mr Okello to present all the remaining witnesses to testify between March 19 and 21 when the trial resumes. Devani, Kilonzo, Otieno, Pathak, Mutua and Triton are charged with stealing 318,656 metric tonnes of jet fuel valued at $365,974.050 (about Sh36.5 million) on diverse dates between April 23 and September 4, 2008, at the Kipevu Oil Storage Facility in Mombasa.

The six jointly with others not before the court are alleged to have stolen 2,634,687 metric tonnes of automobile gas oil delivered via MT Trust Runner valued at $2,844,592 (about Sh284.5 million), the property of KCB.

They also face another charge of stealing 12,782 metric tonnes of automobile gas oil delivered via MT Overseas Primar valued at $7,999,691.39 (Sh799.9 million), the property of KCB.

Only four of the six (Kilonzo, Otieno, Pathak and Mutua) are in the dock.

They have denied charges of fraudulently disposing of the various oil products without the consent of KCB, which had advanced a loan to Triton to import the oil products then repay it after selling them.

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