The Agriculture Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe on Thursday denied charges of irregular purchase of maize worth Sh5.6 billion.
The PS appeared before Senior Principal Magistrate Felix Kombo at the Milimani Law Courts alongside NCPB Managing Director Newton Teter and NCPB Finance General Manager Cornel Kiprotich.
They were released on a cash bail of Sh3 million each.
The Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji on Thursday directed the arrest and prosecution of Dr Lesiyampe and six others over the maize scandal.
Two hours after the order, detectives from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) pounced on Dr Lesiyampe.
In a tweet, EACC said it was hunting for 15 other officials implicated in the scandal that hit maize farmers hard.
Some of the other wanted officials are Accounts Clerk Caroline Kipchoge Cherono, Eldoret Silo Manager Renson Kibet Korir, Records Officer, Eldoret Depot, Eric Kipketer Talum and Mr Joseph Kipruto Cheboi, the County Director of Agriculture.
Dr Lesiyampe is in trouble for irregularly authorising the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB), the custodian of the country’s strategic grain reserve, to buy maize using an unauthorised budget.
NCPB bought the maize on behalf of the Strategic Food Reserve Oversight Board (SFROB) for two years from October 16, 2016.
"Upon investigations, it was established that NCPB spent Sh11,365,879,918 thereby exceeding the Sh6 billion budgeted for," Mr Haji said in a statement.
"The STROB had budgeted to purchase 2 million bags of maize for financial year 2017/18 at Sh6 billion. This expenditure was not budgeted for contrary to the law."
This expenditure, Mr Haji said, failed to ensure that the purchase of maize was done in accordance with the law.
The suspects will be charged with willful failure to comply with law relating to management of public property, unauthorised spending of public funds, conspiracy to defraud, abuse of office and neglect of official duty.
"The Managing Director NCPB wilfully failed to ensure that the procurement of maize was done in accordance with the law," the DPP said.
"The investigation revealed that the NCPB officials, agricultural officers, chiefs and assistant chiefs colluded with the riders to facilitate the fraudulent payments to the detriment of vetted farmers."
The case will be mentioned on September 20 for further direction.