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Court frees Geoffrey Mwangi, Wilbert Kurgat on bail

Wednesday November 28 2018

NHIF Scandal

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. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

BRIAN WASUNA
By BRIAN WASUNA
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Suspended National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) CEO Geoffrey Mwangi and acting Finance Director Wilbert Kurgat were on Wednesday freed by a Nairobi court pending the outcome of criminal charges they are facing for allegedly hampering graft investigations into the national health insurer.

Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi released the suspects on Sh1 million bond each and a surety of similar amount. The magistrate also gave them an option of Sh500,000 cash bail.

Mr Andayi ordered Mr Mwangi and Mr Kurgat to deposit their passports in court and cooperate with investigators probing the possible loss of Sh2 billion at the State agency.

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.

SIGNATORIES

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, the board during a special board meeting sent the two embattled bosses on compulsory leave.

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.

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 Mr Andayi not to set Mr Mwangi and Mr Kurgat free without them depositing at least a Sh50 million bond.

FUNDS LOSS

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 a text message, 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 on Wednesday ordered the suspects to appear in court on December 10 for further directions.