Why Wario must answer for Rio funds theft

Saturday December 07 2019

Former Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario has a case to answer over the 2016 Olympics fiasco in Rio de Janeiro, where senior officials were accused of embezzling funds meant for athletes.

A Nairobi anti-corruption court ruled that Dr Wario, former PS Richard Ekai, who had also been appointed Kenya’s ambassador to Russia, and Mr Haron Komen, former director of administration at the Ministry of Sports, should defend themselves against the accusations.

Others are Mr Stephen Kiptanui arap Soi, who was chef de mission, Mr Francis Kinyili Paul and Mr Patrick Kimathi Nkabu.

The officials faced a total of 19 counts and the prosecution called a total of 28 witnesses, who testified during the trial.

The charges include engaging in a project without prior planning, abuse of office, wilful failure to comply with applicable procedures and guidelines relating to management of public funds and fraudulent acquisition of public funds.

The officials have been accused of sending undeserving persons to Rio and double payment of allowances, among other abuses that led to the loss of public funds.


Excess payments

The court was told of how the tickets were procured and how the ministry settled on Green Bay Travel Ltd to procure tickets on its behalf. Officials were also paid more than what had been recommended by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.

About 184 people travelled to the Rio Olympics and the total amount paid out as allowances was $1,502850 (about Sh150 million).

The initial team comprised 89 athletes and 68 officials, but the number surged, forcing some to be sent back home.

The huge number forced officials and athletes to share rooms.
Chief Magistrate Elizabeth Juma set February 3 as the date when the accused will start defending themselves.