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NHIF boss sent on forced leave

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Geoffrey Gitau Mwangi
NHIF CEO Geoffrey Gitau Mwangi (left) and acting Finance Director Wilbert Kiplangat Kurgat when they appeared before the Anti-Corruption Court in Milimani on November 28, 2018. They have been replaced. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

The board of the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) has sent CEO Geoffrey Mwangi and acting Finance Director Wilbert Kurgat on compulsory leave, as investigations into the loss of cash at the insurer continues.

The two bosses have been in remand for the past five days after they were arrested for allegedly conspiring to defeat justice by denying investigators access to documents.

Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions have been investigating the insurer’s top management for corruption.

On Tuesday though, the board during a special board meeting resolved to replace the two embattled bosses.

Mr Mwangi was replaced with Mr Nicodemus Odongo who has been serving as the director in charge of strategy, planning and marketing.

Mr Bernard Njenga, who has been the manager in charge of management and accounting, will occupy Mr Kurgat’s office for now.

“Mr Odongo will act as the national insurer’s CEO, while Mr Njenga takes over as the Director in charge of Finance and Investment with effect from 28th November until further notice,” a notice signed by the board chairperson Hannah Muriithi states.

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“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.”

In a letter to the two, Mrs Muriithi stated that the board had appointed an ad-hoc board committee to work closely with them in the interim period and give them guidance whenever required.

The board meeting was attended by Mrs Muriithi, Mudzo Nzili, Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko, board members David Kariuki, Yussuf Ibrahim, Gilla Odera, Akelo Misori, Dr Peter Cherutich and Mrs Ruth Makalla.

Apart from sending the two on an indefinite compulsory leave, the board also removed them as signatories to the insurer’s accounts.

The will be replaced by the new acting bosses.

Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji on Tuesday said contributors to the national health insurer may have lost Sh2 billion through online payment system JamboPay.

He instructed one of his assistants, Alexander Muteti, to ask Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi not to set Mr Mwangi and Mr Kurgat free without them depositing at least a Sh50 million bond.

Resident Magistrate Sinkiyan Tobiko had on September 25 granted an order allowing investigators to cart away documents and electronics crucial to investigations in to the funds loss.

But Mr Kurgat failed to co-operate, leading the police to conclude he was acting on instructions from Mr Mwangi.

It later emerged after investigations that Mr Mwangi had sent him an SMS, asking him not to grant access to the desired documents.

On Tuesday the two NHIF bosses pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to defeat justice and disobedience of a lawful order.

The magistrate ordered that they be remanded at the Industrial Area Prison until today (Wednesday) when their bond request will be heard.

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