Suspected masterminds of Sh791m NYS scam charged

The alleged masterminds behind the Sh791 million National Youth Service scam that rocked the Jubilee government were charged in a Nairobi court Tuesday, days after the prosecution of State officials.

Businessman Benson Gethi, the alleged architect of the scam and Ms Josephine Kaburu Irungu, the owner of four companies implicated in the scandal were among 25 other suspects including State officials charged over the theft of Sh791 million at the National Youth Service (NYS) headquarters in Nairobi.

Suspended Planning principal secretary Peter Mangiti and NYS director Nelson Githinji, who stepped aside, were Wednesday also charged afresh with threatening NYS senior deputy director Adan Harakhe as he was investigating the theft of Sh695.4 million.

The amended charge sheet excluded Mr Gethi, who initially had been included in the list of those involved in the attempt to cover up the Sh695 million scam.

The offence relating to the conspiracy to steal Sh695, 400,000 was allegedly committed between May 27, 2015 and June 19 2015 in Nairobi, the prosecution said.

The Sh791 million according to the prosecution was siphoned through fraudulent payments to six companies whose registration details raised eyebrows and are owned by three individuals.

According to investigations one of the companies, Form Home Builders, was registered on June 10, 2015, five days after former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru wrote to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to investigate its activities.

READ: Anti-graft agency reveals how NYS cash is stolen

The property management firm belongs to 33-year-old Ms Irungu, who owns two other companies already implicated in the scandal. On Tuesday, the suspects denied a charge of conspiracy to steal government monies and engaging in organised crime.

Mr Gethi is a businessman in Nairobi but hails from Nyeri.  Ms Irungu, 34, comes from Murang’a and was said to operate in a salon on Koinange Street.

They were directed to deposit bonds of Sh20 million with alternative cash bails of S 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,” chief magistrate Daniel Ogembo said.

He directed that any suspect who may not have raised the terms by the next mention date on December 8 may renew the request for a review.
Regina Mungai and Hendrick Pilisi, employees of NYS, faced a further charge of making a false document.

Ms Waiguru bowed to pressure and resigned on Saturday.

Ms Waiguru has distanced herself from the shadowy dealings, saying she was the one who asked for investigations into the scam after she got wind of it.