Economy

NHIF suspects set to receive 20,000 court documents

nhif

From right: Simeon ole Kirgotty, Geoffrey Gitau Mwangi, Mudzo Nzili and Ruth Sudoi Makallah when they appeared in court January 29, 2019. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

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Summary

  • Appearing before Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti on Tuesday, the investigating officer said the documents were bulky and he needed time to hand copies over to the accused.
  • Prosecution Counsel Victor Owiti also asked the court to allow them to supply copies of bank statements, which form the bulk of the documents, in soft copy.

A Nairobi court has given the prosecution a month to supply over 20,000 documents to suspects in the Sh500 million National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) graft case.

Appearing before Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti on Tuesday, the investigating officer said the documents were bulky and he needed time to hand copies over to the accused.

Prosecution Counsel Victor Owiti also asked the court to allow them to supply copies of bank statements, which form the bulk of the documents, in soft copy.

The defence team, led by Assa Nyakundi, opposed the application saying electronic evidence was prone to manipulation. The court also extended orders stopping Webtribe Ltd and its directors Danson Muchemi and Robert Muriithi from interfering with the system despite protests by their lawyer Steve Ogolla.

Webtribe is at the centre of the graft suit where NHIF executives are accused of irregularly offering it a contract to collect members’ contributions in 2014. NHIF bought the Webtribe system for ShSh495 million last year. Mr Ogolla argued that extension of the order was unnecessary because there was no indication that the company intended to interfere with the system.

NHIF chief executive Geoffrey Mwangi and his predecessor Simeon Kirgotty have denied 17 counts of alleged loss of over Sh500 million at the fund.

Mr Kirgotty is charged with seven counts including abuse of office, wilful failure to comply with the law relating to management of public funds, and failure to comply with procurement procedures.

The court heard that he authorised payment of over Sh545 million to Webtribe. Mr Mwangi is alleged to have extended Webtribe’s contract and authorised payment which led to loss of funds at NHIF.

Mr Mwangi, Mr Kirgotty, Ruth Makallah and Pamela Nyaboke Marendi denied the charge of engaging in a project without prior planning. They allegedly committed the offence between February 7 and August 15, 2014, when they engaged the services of Webtribe to collect revenue at a cost of Sh49.5 million.

Irene Rono, Jacinta Mwangi, Gilbert Gathuo Kamau, Kennedy Wakhu and Fredrick Sagwe — members of the tender evaluation committee — were accused of failure to adhere to procedure and criteria set out in the tender documents.

Webtribe and its directors have denied fraudulently receiving more than Sh1.1 billion from NHIF. Mr Ogoti directed the prosecution to supply the documents by February 28 and file an inventory.

The case will be mentioned on March 4.