Court upholds Davy Koech’s imprisonment
Former director of the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) Prof Davy Koech yesterday suffered a blow after the High Court declined his application to review the decision of a magistrate’s court to sentence him to a six-year jail term for corruptly acquiring public funds.
Justice Esther Maina of the Anti-Corruption High Court Division said that Koech did not demonstrate how the trial court erred in convicting him of corruptly acquiring Sh19.3 million from the research institution.
“I have considered the application and the submissions by Koech and the DPP and my finding is that the application has no merit. So, the application has been dismissed,” Maina said.
The judge threw out the application for two reasons, the first being that he did not demonstrate irregularities in the decision of the lower court to warrant her quashing the conviction and subsequently sentencing over the loss of public funds.
Secondly the judge said that she did not find that the trial could be voided because of an arranged agreement between the state and Koech to have him pay the public funds he fraudulently acquired from the institution.
“Koech said that the state had undertaken not to prosecute him if he paid the sums that were in question. The lower court had directed that there should be undertaking in writing as per Section 56(b) of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act. When l went through the record l did not find such undertaking to warrant this court to declare the proceedings in the trial court were null and void,”Maina said.
Koech wanted the High Court to set aside the entire decision of trial magistrate Victor Wakumile saying it was faulty.
The former Kemri boss who has been serving the six-year jail, had also argued that the trial magistrate Wakumile erred in law by failing to consider the inconsistencies in the witness testimonies and evidence on record before convicting him.
Koech had also argued that the sentence against him was harsh and the same should be set aside.
On September 15, 2021, Wakumile slapped Koech with a fine of Sh19.6 million or six years in jail for corruptly acquiring public funds.
The former long-serving Kemri director faced three counts of unlawfully transferring research funds from the institution’s account at Standard Chartered Bank’s Kisumu branch, to an account with the same bank Yaya Centre in Nairobi.
Koech was found guilty of conspiring to defraud Kemri of over Sh19.3 million on diverse dates between May 2003 and April 2007.
The researcher Koech is alleged to have unlawfully transferred Sh342 million belonging to Kemri’s pension fund to an account held by AMST at Standard Chartered Bank’s Yaya Centre branch.
The trial court found that Koech used his office to improperly confer a benefit on Essential Management Consultancy Ltd by allegedly withdrawing huge chunks of funds from Kemri’s pension fund without the authority of the board of trustees.
The anti-graft body alleges that Koech failed to comply with the law relating to the management of funds and ignoring Section 40 (b) of the Retirement Benefits Act.
The Kisumu account was allegedly registered under Kemri’s Centre for Vector Biology and Control Research (CVBCR), while the one in Nairobi was under the auspices of African Medical Services Trust (Amset), an organization run and controlled by the researcher.
The donor funds were meant for research work but Koech allegedly diverted them to a company associated with him. He served as Kemri director from 1986 until he was suspended in 2007 to allow investigations.