By: VINCENT AGOYA
Two suspected masterminds of the Sh791 million National Youth Service scandal that has rocked the Jubilee government were charged in a Nairobi court on Tuesday.
Businessman Benson Gethi and Ms Josephine Kaburu Irungu, an owner of four companies implicated in the scandal, were among 25 suspects who were yesterday charged afresh over the theft of the millions at the NYS headquarters in Nairobi.
Devolution Principal Secretary Peter Mangiti and NYS Director Nelson Githinji were also among the 25.
The money, according to the prosecution, was siphoned through fraudulent payments to six firms, whose registration details raised eyebrows and are apparently owned by three individuals.
According to investigations, one of the companies, Form Home Builders, was registered on June 10, five days after former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru wrote to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to inquire into its activities.
The property management firm belongs to 33-year-old Irungu, who owns two other companies, already implicated in the scandal.
Yesterday, the suspects denied the charge of conspiracy to steal Government money and engaging in organised crime .
Procurement and finance directors were charged with breach of trust and falsification of transaction documents.
The PS and the director were charged with attempting to induce the senior deputy director-general in charge of administration, Mr Adan Gedow Harakhe, “not to follow up the matter relating to the conspiracy” to steal money from the Government.
Dr Githinji denied they threatened their colleague with undisclosed consequences unless he dropped his pursuit of the matter.
The offence relating to the conspiracy to steal Sh695,400,000 was allegedly committed between May 27 and June 19 in Nairobi, the prosecution said.
All suspects were yesterday directed to deposit bonds of Sh20 million, with alternative cash bails of Sh3 million.
However, their lawyers said the terms were “exorbitant” and asked for a review, but the request was declined.
“I have noted that the issue was canvassed at length. However, in granting the terms, the court was guided by the principle of reasonableness.
“I have noted that out of the 14 accused persons who appeared in court on November 18, 13 have so far paid the cash bail,” said Chief Magistrate Daniel Ogembo.
The magistrate said this confirmed that the terms granted were “reasonable”.
The case will be mentioned on December 8.
SOURCE: DAILY NATION