A court in Homa Bay has issued a warrant of arrest against former Karachuonyo MP James Rege who is accused of stealing public funds during his tenure as a legislator.
Homa Bay Senior Principal Magistrate Thomas Obutu issued the arrested warrant Friday after Engineer Rege failed to appear in court to face graft charges.
Rege is accused of defrauding the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) of Sh 909,398 through a supply agreement for provision of telemedicine equipment to Kendu Adventist Hospital, a faith-based hospital in Karachuonyo Constituency when he served as MP ahead of 2013 general election.
He is also accused of abuse of office.
The former legislator, who is currently the chairman of Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) board, was accused alongside five others. The other suspects include officials who served at the NG-CDF office during his tenure and Alliance Logistics Centre Limited, a firm which is accused of illegally receiving the stolen funds.
The suspects are Kennedy Ochieng, Micheal Ocholla, Adero Kobe, Samuel Okuta and the firm’s director Fred Matara.
In the first count, all the suspects are accused of committing an economic crime by engaging in a scheme to defraud the government on diverse dates between 2011 and November 28, 2013.
The court heard that Rege, then being the MP for Karachuonyo improperly used his office for the fraudulent procurement of telemedicine equipment for the said hospital thereby conferring an improper benefit of Sh909, 398 on Alliance Logistics Centre Limited.
In the third count, Mr Ochieng, who was then the personal assistant to the MP, is accused of improperly using his office between 2011 and November 2013 to facilitate the fraudulent procurement of the said accessories therefore conferring improper benefit to the said company.
“Mr Ochieng and Mr Matara jointly colluded to submit a tender for a telemedicine equipment with a specified price and equipment specification in order to award the tender to Alliance Logistics Centre Limited,” the court was told.
In the fourth count, Mr Ocholla was then the accounting officer at the office of the MP was accused of failure to comply with the applicable procedures and guidelines relating to procurement and tendering of contracts.
The court heard that on diverse dates, Mr Ocholla who was the fund account manager of Karachuonyo NG-CDF willfully failed to ensure the procurement of the said machines was done in compliance with the applicable procurement procedures.
“The fund accounts manager whose functions entails ensuring that NG-CDF fulfils its obligations failed to ensure the procurement of telemedicine accessories for Kendu Adventist Hospital at Sh 1 million was carried out in compliance with the applicable procedures set out in the Public Procurement and Disposals act as required of him by the Public Procurement and Disposal Act,” the court was told.
The accounting officer is further accused of making irregular payment to the said company and forging documents that facilitate the payment in count five and six.
Mr Ocholla is said to have forged the tender opening minutes of the meeting for supply, delivery,
In another count, the officer, Ms Kobe and Mr Okuta are accused of fraudulent payment.
They are accused of jointly fraudulently authorised payment of Sh 909,3398 to the said company for purported supply of the said machine.
In the tenth count, Mr Matara is accused of fraudulently acquiring public funds using his firm.
He is said to have received funds to supply accessories for the hospital but failed to supply the accessories.
Mr Okuta, Mr Ocholla and Ms Kobe appeared before the Magistrate in Homa Bay yesterday where they pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutor Lazarus Sirtuy told the court that Mr Ochieng was arrested in Nairobi and is expected to be arraigned in court.
Mr Charles Onyango who represented Ms Kobe appealed to the court to consider his clients’ health condition before issuing her with a bond.
He claimed the accused is sick and cannot survive while in custody.
The suspects were freed on Sh1 million bond with a surety or a cash bail of Sh700,000.
The case will be mentioned on July 17.