Bernice Mbugua @BerniceMuhindi
National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) chief executive Geoffrey Mwangi and chief Finance officer Wilbert Kurgat were yesterday sent on compulsory leave as the government intensified investigations into the alleged loss of billions of shillings at the fund.
Mwangi and Kurgat were also removed as signatories to NHIF accounts as reports emerged that detectives are probing at least 10 corruption-related cases that may have led the insurer to lose billions of shillings.
Prosecutors believe the issues in question include payment vouchers that will unearth a money siphoning scheme at NHIF, through Webtribe Limited, a software development firm that trades as JamboPay.
News of the duo’s suspension broke about an hour before the court released them on bail after spending five nights in custody. They were released on Sh1 million bond or a Sh500,000 cash bail.
NHIF Board appointed Nicodemus Odongo and Benard Njenga to fill the duo’s positions in acting capacities respectively.
Odongo currently heads the Director Strategy, Planning & Marketing position while Njenga is the Management Accounting head.
“This is to allow continuity of service delivery by the fund and to maintain momentum towards achieving the Big Four Agenda on Universal Health Coverage,” read a circular signed by the board chairperson Hannah Muriithi.
Odongo is reportedly among the list of NHIF officers the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)Noordin Haji said is being probed over a Sh2 billion scandal.
Others are ICT boss Gilbert Kamau, Dinah Kirwa (corporate services), Gibson Muhoho (compliance) and Johnstone Ouma (procurement), among others.
Mwangi and Kurgat were charged on Tuesday with conspiracy to defeat justice and disobedience of lawful orders.
According to the charge sheet, they knowingly prevented the execution of a court order requiring production for scrutiny of any book or books of evidential value in connection with the investigations being undertaken by DCI chief inspector Nephat Marubu to unravel a Sh2 billion fraud scheme.
They allegedly committed the offense on November 21 at NHIF Headquarters in Upperhill, Nairobi.
Detectives say they are investigating the intended procurement of a software to facilitate payments, which was also hired at Sh490 million and received commissions worth Sh911 million, the overseas treatment scheme, which has allegedly been used to siphon money, among other scams.