Kenya Power managers get tough bail terms

Kenneth Tarus Ben Chumo
Kenya Power MD Kenneth Tarus (left) and former managing director Ben Chumo at the Milimani Law Court on July 17, 2018. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG 

Senior Kenya Power #ticker:KPLC managers were Tuesday freed on stringent bond conditions after a Nairobi court ruled that there was no compelling reason to deny them freedom.

Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti made the ruling, but with tight conditions that bar the accused, who are on suspension, from travelling outside the country, visiting their former offices or talking to potential witnesses.

Reports indicated that the 19 accused persons spent another night in custody because the bank and court registry had closed by the time the decision was made. Mr Ogoti directed that the accused persons be held at Gigiri Police Station, pending the processing of their release.

The magistrate had in his ruling found that there was nothing compelling to deny them freedom. Mr Ogoti then directed the suspects, including former managing director Ben Chumo and his successor Dr Ken Tarus, to deposit their passports in court and to visit the Directorate of Criminal Investigations once every two weeks.

The prosecution, led by senior assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Alexander Muteti, urged the court to remand ail the suspects arguing that they are likely to interfere with witnesses and ongoing investigations. Hearing of the case was briefly disrupted in the morning following a sudden power outage.

The case was adjourned for about 30 minutes until power was restored. In opposing the release of the suspects on bail, the prosecution had argued that the suspects have access to sensitive operational systems at Kenya Power and might interfere with them if released.

The list of suspects includes Beatrice Meso, the company secretary, Joshua Mutua, general manager commercial services, Abubakar Swaleh, general manager human resource and administration, Samuel Ndiirangu, the general manager ICT, Stanley Mutwiri, general manager Infrastructure development, Benson Muriithi, general manager network management, Peter Mwicigi, general manager regional co-ordination and John Ombui, the head of supply chain.

The managers are accused of procuring substandard transformers that caused Kenya Power a Sh408 million loss. They are accused of conspiring to commit an economic crime on diverse dates between August 3, 2013 and June 12, 2018 when they procured transformers worth Sh408,533,221 from Muwa Trading. They further denied abuse of office and failure to comply with procurement laws.

Also in court was James Njenga, a director of the company. The court further heard that the senior Kenya Power managers aided Muwa Trading company to fraudulently acquire Sh202 million, by supplying substandard transformers.

The 11 KPLC senior managers are alleged to have tried to defeat the course of justice when they sanctioned an out- of-court settlement of a case Muwa had filed in court.

It is alleged that the management team tried to settle the case out of court, leading to the loss of more than Sh200 million. Mr Mungai his wife Ms Grace Wanjira and son John Anthony Mungai denied charges of fraudulent acquisition of public funds.

In the second case, Dr Tarus and eight other senior managers of KPLC denied charges of fraudulently granting transport tenders to unqualified companies occasioning the company loss of more than Sh159 million.

Others were Harun Karisa, Daniel Tare, Noah Ogano Omondi, Daniel Ocheing Muga, John Mwaura Njehia, James Muriuki, Bernard Githui Muturi, Everlyne Pauline Omondi. The nine were members of the tender committee.

The court directed them to pay cash bail of Sh1 million each or execute a personal bond of Sh3 million and bond of Sh2 million plus surety of similar amount. The pretrial will be held on August 6.