Kenya’s Ambassador to Russia, Mr Richard Ekai, was last evening arrested as detectives ordered his counterpart in Austria, Mr Hassan Wario, to surrender or risk a warrant of arrest being issued against him over the 2016 Olympic Games scandal.
The Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti confirmed that Mr Ekai had been arrested with sources within the police force saying he had turned himself in after being ordered to do so.
“Richard Titus Ekai, former PS, has just been arrested,” Mr Kinoti stated in a text message seen by the Sunday Nation.
Separately, sources at the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) confirmed the arrest and said police were looking for Mr Wario.
The source also revealed that summons had been sent to Mr Wario to turn himself in.
“We have ordered him to surrender failing which we will go for him,” the source, who sought anonymity as the matter falls in the DCI’s domain, said.
Mr Ekai’s arrest followed orders by the DPP Noordin Haji that he and six others including Mr Wario be arrested and prosecuted for allegedly misappropriating Sh55 million during the 2016 Summer Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Mr Haji believes there is a case to charge the two for either misusing or stealing money allocated to the Kenyan team to Brazil in 2016, resulting in one of the most scandalous international outings in Kenya’s athletics industry.
Mr Wario was the Sports Cabinet Secretary at the time of the scandal while Mr Ekai was the Principal Secretary in the ministry.
Also to face charges in connection with the scandal is one of Kenya’s foremost sportsmen, the legendary Kipchoge Keino, who was the President of the National Olympic Committee-Kenya (NOCK) during the games.
Mr Keino, one of the best middle and long distance runners of all time, was said to be out of the country when the Sunday Nation tried to reach him for a comment on the charges facing him.
“My father is out of the country, you cannot reach him,” his son, Martin Keino, told our reporter when contacted.
Those to be charged alongside the trio include the former Director of Administration at the Sports ministry Harun Komen, former finance officer in the same ministry Patrick Kimathi Nkabu, former Nock deputy treasurer Stephen Soi and former Nock Secretary-General Francis Kanyili (FK) Paul.
Mr Soi, who was the Chef De Mission for Team Kenya at the games, was arrested by detectives on Friday evening and spent the night at the Muthaiga Police Station.
Yesterday morning, he was driven to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters on Kiambu Road and interrogated for the better part of the day.
A source privy to the investigations revealed that Mr Soi could be turned into a prosecution witness to testify against his former colleagues when the case kicks off.
Detectives were last night looking for Mr Komen and Mr Nkabu. Unconfirmed reports indicated that Mr Kanyili had surrendered himself at the DCI headquarters.
We could not get the DCI Mr Kinoti to confirm the reports.
In a statement, Mr Haji said that after reviewing the inquiry file, he was satisfied that there was sufficient evidence to charge the seven persons with abuse of office.
He subsequently directed the DCI to immediately arraign them in court and at the same time ordered the other officials at large to report to DCI headquarters before tomorrow, “failing which the process of obtaining warrants of arrest shall commence before a competent court”.
The DPP said the seven will be charged with six accounts of abuse of office contrary to Section 46 as read with section 48(1) of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act No 32 of 2003.
“They also face four counts of willful failure to comply with the laws relating to the management of public funds, contrary to Section 45(2) (b) as read with Section 48 of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, 2003,” he added.
The statement stated that the seven embezzled Sh22.4 million, purchased air tickets worth Sh16.9 million, which were not utilised besides overpayment of allowances amounting to Sh15.9 million. They also incurred expenditure on unauthorised persons amounting to Sh6.6 million,” Mr Haji said.
He observed that several individuals were unlawfully facilitated by the seven with air tickets and allowances to travel to the Rio games, adding that he had referred the matter to the Asset Recovery Agency for recovery of the monies.
“I have also directed further investigations to be conducted into the donations made to National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock) and contracts between Nock and Nike and the utilisation of the monies realised therefrom,” he added.
At the height of the scandal, the Sunday Nation established, cash bonuses from Nike for Olympic and Commonwealth Games medal winners had never reached the athletes.
Nike gives $15,000 (Sh1.5 million) to Nock for each gold medal won at the Olympic Games, $7,500 (Sh750,000) for silver and $5,000 (Sh500,000) for bronze.
“Even though the cash is payable to Nock, a large percentage of such bonuses must trickle down to the individual athletes winning these medals,” a source privy to the discussions that led to the signing of the Nike deal with Nock said in an earlier interview.
The DPP noted that the DCI re-submitted the inquiry file to his office with the recommendations to charge the officials in regard to their respective roles in the misappropriation of the public funds meant for the games.
Mr Haji said that the government had set aside Sh544 million to facilitate athletes participating in the games. “Unfortunately some of the funds were mismanaged thus denying the athletes proper facilitation.”
The DPP further noted that the impact of corruption and siphoning of funds “meant for the facilitation of our sportsmen and women has had the negative impact on their ability to perform optimally”.
He revealed that the DCI had received a report in December 2016 from the Kenyan athletes on alleged mismanagement of millions of shillings upon which he undertook investigations which established that various offences were committed.
However, cases involving Soi and Kanyili have been going on at the High Court since 2016.
Nock officials, including Soi, Kanyili and overall team managers Pius Ochieng and James Chacha, were arrested upon arrival from the Rio Olympics following allegations of mismanagement of funds, and the team which saw Team Kenya being housed at a substandard hotel in Rio.
The rest were charged save for Chacha who was set free while Nock treasurer Fridah Shiroya reportedly agreed to testify on behalf of the government.
Mr Wario later instituted a probe committee to investigate the Rio fiasco chaired by Paul Ochieng.
It included legendary marathoner Ibrahim Hussein and former stars Elizabeth Olaba and Rose Tata-Muya.
Other members were Elias Makori, a journalist, and John Njogu, a lawyer at the ministry.
The Committee’s findings have never been made public even though the report was presented to President Uhuru Kenyatta in November 2016.
A leaked report however recommended that Nock should account for the Sh126 million it receives annually from Nike on behalf of athletes.