Nairobi — Former National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) Chief Executive Officer Richard Kerich and three other suspects have been arrested over an alleged Sh116 million fraud case.
Kerich is set to be charged alongside Peter Wambugu and Ndiba Wairioko (both Directors at the Meridian Medical Centre) as well as David Chingi - NHIF's Manager of Strategy and Cooperate Planning.
A fifth suspect, Marwa Chacha who is a Programmes Manager at the NHIF, is still being sought.
The Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) in a statement sent to newsrooms on Tuesday said that the five officials knowingly conspired to defraud the Fund and were due to be charged in court on Wednesday.
"Wambugu and Wairioko entered into a contract under which Meridian was to provide services under the Civil Services and Disciplined Forces Medical Scheme knowing very well that they had no capacity to provide such services in full," argued the EACC.
"Chingi used his office to improperly award a contract worth Sh116,935,500 million to Meridian Medical Centre and Chacha failed to comply with the law relating to public procurement by not using an open tendering method."
Kerich was at the helm of the NHIF when details of how the Fund had paid ghost clinics millions of shillings emerged.
The then Medical Services Minister Anyang' Nyong'o fired Kerich and the entire NHIF Board.
Adan A. Adan was then made the CEO but in acting capacity and soon after, Simeon ole Kirgotty was brought in as the new CEO.
His attempt to take up the new position was however met with resistance forcing Nyong'o to intervene.
"We have appointed a new board and we are in the process of gazetting it so once this happens I will call the new members and inaugurate them," Nyong'o said at the time.
"I know that Kirgotty is there so anybody who tries to impersonate him as the CEO will be dealt with accordingly."
The anti corruption commission also maintained that public resources must be safeguarded and that officials who misuse their positions to steal from public coffers would be dealt with.
"The commission has carefully conducted thorough investigations into several clinics and patients that were purported to have benefited from the funds and found the suspects culpable," said the EACC.
This development comes at a time when the government has ordered the NHIF not to pay for consultancy services pegged at Sh7.2 billion and allegedly used in the proposed construction of a hospital in Karen.
On August 28, this year, Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said the government had decided not to pay the ludicrous amount because it amounted to misuse of hard earned public funds.
"The Ministry of Health's position on the NHIF Karen Hospital project is that we shouldn't pay, can't pay and therefore won't pay the claims for the purported consultancy services which alarmingly now stands at Sh7.2 billion," he declared in a statement at the time.
Plans to overhaul the NHIF are also underway with the assistance of the World Bank.
"I also wish to advise that a process to overhaul the NHIF commenced on May 30, this year with the appointment of a taskforce comprising of officials from the Health Ministry with the technical support of the World Bank and others," said Macharia.