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Secret SMS that led to the arrest of NHIF boss




The National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) CEO Geoffrey Gitau Mwangi (right) and insurer’s chief finance director Wilbert Kiplangat Kurgat at a Milimani court on Monday, November 26, 2018. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG 

A text message from National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) chief Geoffrey Mwangi to the chief finance director, Wilbert Kurgat, helped the police to press charges against the two for obstructing corruption investigations, court documents reveal.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) disclosed in court papers that it obtained a text from Mr Mwangi directing Mr Kurgat not to share documents demanded by the investigators.

The prosecution says the two denied officers access to documents – payment vouchers and other books – that were deemed important to the investigation relating to payment of millions of shillings to Webtribe Ltd—a firm dealing in online payments.

“Further investigations revealed that on the November 21, 2018 at 11: 46amand 11:47am, the first accused person sent a text message to the 2nd accused person directing him not to co-operate with the investigators and specifically not to give the investigators documents central to the investigations to wit payment vouchers for the Webtribe Company Limited,” said Investigating officer Arthur Onyango.

Investigations at NHIF started in September when police looked at various transactions suspected to be fraudulent.

Investigators were on September 25 granted court orders to search NHIF offices and homes of 13 executives at the fund.

Mr Mwangi and Mr Kurgat, who were arrested Friday, were Monday remanded at Muthaiga Police Station in Nairobi till this morning.

Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi issued the ruling when they were arraigned on charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice and disobedience to lawful orders. Mr Mwangi and Mr Kurgat did not plead to any charges as expected.

The two will return to court today to know whether they will take plea in the case. The magistrate said he will issue the ruling at 11.30am.

While arguing for the postponement of plea-taking, the accused’s lawyers said they do not know the documents they are said to have failed to produce.

They said that in an earlier court order, investigators did not specify the documents that their clients were to supply.

“Our main complaint is that the charge sheet is defective. Whether or not they were served with an order to avail certain documents, the charge is defective,” said Prof. Tom Ojienda.

The prosecution, however, told the court that Mr Mwangi and Mr Kurgat were well aware that they were required to surrender payment vouchers.

“This is a deviatory tactic carefully calculated to water down our case against them. Refusing to comply with an order because of not understanding it is impunity,” said prosecutor Alex Muteti.

The investigations want the two denied bond, arguing they do not respect court orders and hold positions of influence at the NHIF that risk derailing investigations.







Kenyan Digest