Eight business associates of Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua have been released on bail after denying corruption charges. They are accused of fraudulent acquisition of public funds and conspiracy to defraud the Nyeri County government of Sh27.4 million.
The eight, including Mr Gachagua's close ally and Mathira NG-CDF manager William Wahome Mwangi, denied the charges when they were brought before Chief Magistrate Rachel Makungu at the Milimani Anti-Corruption Court.
Mr Mwangi, who is also the chairman of Tana Water Works Development Agency (TWWDA), was released on Sh1 million cash bail.
The other accused persons are Anne Nduta Ruo (a banker), Julianne Jahenda Maka, Samuel Murimi Ireri, Grace Wambui Kariuki, Lawrence Kimaru, Irene Wambui Ndigiriri, David Reuben Nyangi Nguru and Rapid Medical Supplies Ltd.
Ms Ruo was also granted Sh1 million cash bail while Makaa, Ireri, Kariuki, Kimaru and Ndigiri were granted Sh500,000 cash bail each. The court freed Mr Nguru on Sh1.5 million cash bail.
Together with Mr Gachagua, they were charged with defrauding the Nyeri County government of Sh27.4 million purportedly for the supply of dialysis machines to the Nyeri Provincial General Hospital.
The charge sheet indicates that they committed the offence between May 2015 and December 2016.
In the second count Mr Nguru, Rapid Medical Supplies Ltd and the MP face a charge of fraudulent acquisition of public property.
The charge sheet indicates that on December 29, 2014, they received Sh6 million from the Nyeri County government, being part of the payment for the supply of the dialysis machines.
While granting them bail, Ms Makhungu stated that bond is a constitutional right but the court has to balance between the suspects' rights and the public good.
The magistrate also directed the prosecution to furnish the accused with witness statements and other documentary exhibits before August 9, 2021 when the case is slated for pre-trial.
Defence lawyers Tom Ojienda and Michael Muchemi, while pleading for the bails, told the court that the accused persons had demonstrated good character by cooperating with the investigating officers and attended court following summons.
Prof Ojienda said the accused are persons of humble means and urged the court not to be swayed by the astronomical figures in the charge sheet.
The prosecution was not opposed to their release on bail but urged the court to consider that public resources were lost in the transactions.
According to Section 48 (1) of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act (2003), a person convicted of an offence of conspiracy to defraud is liable to a fine not exceeding Sh1 million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or to both.
If as a result of the conspiracy, the person received a quantifiable benefit or any other person suffered a quantifiable loss, he or she is liable to an additional mandatory fine equal to two times the amount of the benefit or loss suffered.
And if the offence resulted in both a benefit and loss, the mandatory fine is equal to two times the sum of the amount of the benefit and the amount of the loss.
The penalty prescribed in Section 48 (1) also applies to the offence of fraudulent acquisition of public property.
Mr Gachagua was charged with four other separate counts including two on money laundering, conflict of interest and acquisition of proceeds of crime. He denied all the charges.