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Former NHIF boss Kerich has case to answer – court

By Nancy Gitonga
Monday, June 14th, 2021 00:00 | 2 mins read
from left: Ndiba Wairioko, Peter Wambugu, David Chingi, Marwa Chacha and Richard Kerich in court when they were charged on January 27, 2014 with conspiracy to defraud NHIF Sh116.9 million. Photo/PD/File

An anti-corruption court sitting in Nairobi testerday ruled that former National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) Chief Executive Richard Kerich and four others charged with defrauding the institution over Sh116.9 million have a case to answer.

Chief Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi said he was satisfied that a prima facie case had been established against Kerich and the other accused including Meridian Medical Centre directors Peter Wambugu and Ndiba Wairioko and former NHIF officials Marwa Chacha and David Chingi.

“After evaluation of the evidence adduced by 39 prosecution witnesses, I am satisfied that a prima facie case has been established against the five accused persons herein. I therefore put them on their defence,” ruled the magistrate.  

Mugambi noted that the evidence tabled before the court through prosecution witnesses was strong.

The accused were charged in connection with the provision of medical scheme for civil servants and disciplined services awarded to Meridian Medical Centre Ltd at a cost of Sh116.9 million.  

Director of Public Prosecutions had asked the trial court to find the accused with a case to answer of the several graft charges of conspiracy to defraud, abuse of office, wilful failure to comply with law applicable to procurement and obtaining money by false pretenses.

Medical services

The former NHIF officials are accused of entering a deal with Meridian Medical Centre Ltd for the provision of medical services under the civil services and disciplined forces scheme, when they were aware that Meridian had no capacity to provide such services.

In their submissions, the accused urged the court to acquit them of all the graft charges leveled against them, as the prosecution does not have enough evidence to prove the charges. 

Kerich, Chacha and Chingi are also accused of abuse of office, failure to comply with procurement laws and conferring a benefit of a Sh43 million to Meridian, offences they allegedly committed on December 21, 2011 and February 8, 2012.

The court, however, acquitted Chacha on one count of failing to comply with the laws relating to procurement, saying his involvement in the process came later after the procurement had been done.

“The involvement of the Second accused (Chacha) only came later on, that is, post the fact of selection of the Sixth accused (Meridian) as a medical service provider and contracting.

On the failure to follow the law relating to public procurement,” Mugambi ruled.

Nancy Gitonga