Kenya: I Was Greedy and Stupid, Says ICEA Manager Jailed for Theft

22 September 2020

A former manager of Insurance Company East Africa (ICEA), jailed for three years for stealing more than Sh62.7 million from his employer, has blamed his criminal act on "greed and young stupid mind".

Lincoln Kivuti Njeru, pleading for a non-custodial sentence, told probation officers that he regretted the theft through the collapsed Nyaga Stockbrokers and that he could have refunded the company the money if he were financially stable.

Milimani Law Courts Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi rejected the probation report and sent Mr Njeru to jail without the option of a fine.

Mr Njeru, 58, received the Sh62.7 million through Nyaga stockbrokers for sale of ICEA share investments and channelled the proceeds to his personal accounts. The money was supposed to be wired to the insurance firm's accounts.

Mr Njeru, who was then an investment manager at the firm, said the cash got lost through erosion of share value at the Nairobi bourse.

"From the totality of evidence presented by the prosecution the losses experienced by ICEA were correctly linked to the accused person and not as investment losses as he purported," the magistrate stated in his sentence.

The magistrate said the accused could not explain the source of the millions of shillings he held in his bank accounts.

Probation report

The magistrate rejected the probation report where Mr Njeru admitted the theft, offered to seek forgiveness from the ICEA Insurance executive team and asked for a non-custodial sentence on the grounds of ill-health.

He attributed the ill health, including ulcers and high blood pressure, to the criminal suit and difficulties in repaying an Equity Bank loan.

ICEA Insurance chief executive Justus Mutiga urged the court to hand Mr Njeru severe punishment, according the probation report.

The court found that the money deposited in the accounts of ICEA were withdrawn and deposited into the personal account of Mr Njeru.

"From the foregoing and having rejected the probation officers recommendation for a non-custodial penalty I hereby order the accused to serve a total of nine years in jail for all the three counts," the magistrate said.

"This court takes into account the tens of millions of shillings lost which had been entrusted to the accused for investing."

Plea for mercy

The convict was given 14 days to appeal the sentence. For each of the three counts he was jailed for three years, but the term will run concurrently.

The offence took place between January 17, 2003 and September 20, 2005.

Through defence lawyer Stanley Kang'ahi, Mr Njeru pleaded for mercy saying he has been out of employment for the last 12 years and that he is the sole breadwinner for his family.

Mr Kang'ahi asked the magistrate to give the accused a second chance to redeem his life then continue serving his family as he is remorseful and regrets the loss.

He was found guilty last week, but the magistrate put on hold the sentencing pending the pre-sentence report from the probation department.

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