End of game for ex-Sports staff as Rio trial begins

Former Sports Principal Secretary Richard Ekai together with 2016 Rio Olympics Chief De Mission Stephen Soi and National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock) secretary general Francis Kinyili yesterday denied charges of misappropriating Sh55 million meant for the games. 

While appearing before Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti of Milimani Anti-Corruption Court, the trio faced six counts of abuse of office and four counts of willful failure to comply with the law relating to the management of public funds. Ogoti ordered each of the accused persons to be released on a bond of Sh2 million and a cash bail of Sh1 million.

They were also ordered to deposit their passports with the court and if they need them they must make formal application. The magistrate further ordered that DCI to verify the securities they will intend to deposit in court. Ekai was last night set to travel to Russia to take up his ambassadorial duties.

At the same time, the court ordered former Sports Cabinet secretary Hassan Wario, now Kenya’s ambassador to Austria, and former Nock president Kipchoge Keino, Harun Komen and Patrick Kimathi (a former finance officer in Sports ministry) to surrender to police on Thursdays at 6am over the 2016 Olympic Games financial scandal.

The order was issued after the four failed to appear in court yesterday to plead to graft related charges over the alleged misappropriation of funds into the Rio Games.

Wario is expected in the country tomorrow and then be processed by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) on Thursday before being arraigned on Friday at 8.30am.

Wario and Keino will be charged with abuse of office over the alleged misappropriation of funds meant for the team that represented Kenya in the games.

The former CS is to face six counts of abuse of office in which he  is alleged to have improperly conferred a benefit of over Sh1.5 million to Adan Omar by including him into the Kenyan delegation to the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, an act that resulted to loss of public funds.

Through his lawyer Cecil Miller, Kieno said he could not appear in court since he was receiving an award abroad this evening.

The prosecution had earlier sought a warrant of arrest against the four for failing to appear in court for plea-taking but later urged the court to order that they appear before the DCI for processing on Thursday.

Defence lawyers requested the magistrate to allow them present their clients to court on Thursday for plea-taking, saying they are not a flight risk. The court heard that Paul and Soi had co-operated with the prosecution in another case Cr 1483 whose hearing is pending in a different court.

Prosecution said that in the criminal case against Paul and Soi pending before the Milimani chief magistrate’s court, Wario, Ekai and Komen are witnesses.

The prosecution had asked the court to release Ekai, Soi and Paul on stringent bond terms, claiming the economic crimes offences facing them are serious.

Abuse of office

Ekai is alleged to have committed the offence at the Ministry of Sports, on July 19, 2016 by failing to comply with the applicable law and procedures relating to the management of public funds and by unlawfully incurring an expenditure of Sh6,590,286 on unauthorised persons during the Rio Games.

He was also charged with unlawfully authorising payment in excess of $151,500 (Sh15,907,500) as allowances to members of Team Kenya to the games.

Soi was separately charged with abuse of office.  The court heard that on July 17, 2016 at the ministry, he arbitrary used his office to confer a benefit of Sh6,590,286 being payment of air tickets and allowances to unauthorised persons during the said games.

He was also charged with unlawfully authorising payment of Sh16,872,497 in an uneconomical and ineffective manner during the Rio Games.

Soi, a former deputy treasurer of Nock, was also accused of careless management of public funds in disbursement of $151,500 (Sh15,907,500) during the games.

The court heard that Kinyili, unlawfully authorised payment in excess of Sh15,907,500 as allowances to the members of the Kenyan Team to the games on July 19, 2016.

Ekai, Paul and Soi were charged after DPP Noordin Haji in a statement on Friday, recommended their prosecution, saying the seven could have overseen embezzlement of Sh22.4 million, purchase of air tickets Sh16.8 million which was not utilised, overpayment of allowances amounting to Sh15.9 and spending Sh6.5 million on unauthorised persons.

He also directed the Asset Recovery Agency to begin recovering public funds that were used by the suspects to allegedly facilitate unauthorised individuals with air tickets and allowances to travel to Rio de Janeiro.

The pre-trial of the case will be held on November 16.

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