A Kisumu court last week heard how a pastor hatched a plot to defraud an insurance company of millions of shillings by forging a death certificate to claim benefits.
The cleric managed to bring in Monica Bolo Odoyo, widow of Samuel Odoyo Agira in a scheme that would have left Old Mutual Life Assurance Company Limited Sh8 million poorer, according to evidence presented in court.
Apart from the widow, the pastor also colluded with other three accomplices in an attempt to claim Sh8 million from the insurer.
The five were arrested last Tuesday by officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, Insurance Fraud Investigations Unit in Nairobi, and driven to Kisumu where they were charged before senior resident magistrate Martha Ogutu.
According to court records, Mr Andrew Okeyo Osewe, a Seventh Day Adventist Pastor in Ngeta, Kendu, Homa Bay County carried out the plot in collaboration with Lower Kakwajok sub-location assistant chief Wilson Were, Mrs Odoyo, and two clinical officers from Kendu Adventist Hospital Mr Harun Diero Ajwang’ and Alfred Nyang’au Odhiambo.
The five were charged with conspiring jointly with intent to defraud Old Mutual Life Assurance Company Limited Sh8 million by falsely making documents in support of a whole life assurance policy purported to be for Mr Agira.
Mr Osewe also faced a further charge of attempting to obtain money by false pretence contrary to the law.
Together with Mr Diero and Mr Nyang’au, the cleric was charged with making a document without authority as well as uttering false document with intent to defraud the insurance company.
The accused are said to have forged medical reports to have the insurance firm them benefits of the late Mr Agira.
This happened between January 20 and April 2.
According to court documents seen by the Nation, Mr Agira had been sickly for quite sometime, and when the pastor got wind of his deteriorating condition due to the terminal illness, he never let the opportunity slide.
Mr Osewe together with the widow applied for a whole life policy with Old Mutual Life Assurance Company Limited for the ailing Mr Agira behind his back.
“According to investigations, the application showed that it was Mr Agira who had applied for it yet the signatures of the applicant did not match his. It was forgery,” read the court documents.
In the cover, Mr Osewe and his accomplices paid premiums for at least eight months, Sh22,500 every month, an amount which was paid promptly via mobile money.
After religiously waiting for months, the cleric’s prayers were answered on July 22 when Mr Agira died at Kendu Adventist Hospital.
In the wee hours of July 23, he was taken to the facility’s mortuary where he was preserved for 28 days before his body was removed and buried on August 21.
“The hospital gave out a burial permit with the cause of death being severe anaemia due to upper gastrointestinal (GIT) bleeding and prostate cancer,” read the documents.
This was bad news to the plotters of the heinous act since the insurer could not pay claims in a scenario where the ‘applicant’ succumbed to terminal illness.
The SDA pastor had to rethink his strategy and have the burial permit drafted to suit his scheme.
According to the registration of births and deaths, the permit shall be prepared by the health facility where the person dies, or in a case of accident or murder, the police will be able to have a say in the writing of the burial permit and including the cause of death.
The other option is the area chief, in an instant where a person dies at home. This is where the assistant chief Mr Were came in to salvage the situation.
Mr Osewe later convinced the sub-chief to write the permit indicating the cause of death as malaria after documents were forged by the clinical officers, with the full knowledge of where Mr Agira died and the cause of death.
Excited and anxious about the ‘success’ of the scheme, the pastor and the widow rushed to the insurer to claim the benefits even before the deceased was laid to rest. This was their main undoing.
All the five denied the charges and were released on a bond of Sh150,000 each with a surety and a cash bail of Sh100,000.
The case will be mentioned on September 24 and be heard on November 21.