Mwiraria to take Anglo leasing plea from hospital bed

former Finance Minister David Mwiraria
former Finance Minister David Mwiraria

The Anti-Corruption Court has directed the former Finance Minister David Mwiraria to plead to Anglo Leasing charges from his hospital bed next week Monday.

This is after his lawyers told presiding Magistrate Felix Kombo that Mwiraria cannot stand trial as he is suffering from cancer.

The former minister faces four counts of conspiracy to commit an economic crime to defraud the government of Ksh4.08 Billion in a scam that cost the country a total of Ksh10 billion.

A separate count accuses him of engaging in a project without prior planning.

In late November, the Anti-Corruption Court issued a warrant of arrest against Mwiraria after he failed to turn up to take plea over the Anglo Leasing scandal.

This was the second time Mwiraria had failed to appear in court.

Mwiraria was initially set to appear before the court in March, but he was excused after he complained of poor health.

Through his lawyer Abbas Esmail, Mwiraria told the court that he was unable to present himself in court as he had been admitted to the hospital.

The prosecution, however, asked the court to issue a warrant of arrest against him saying that the former Cabinet Minister was not honest with the court.

Mwiraria, who has been ailing for some time, was found fit to plead to the charges in September by a state doctor, something that led to the Anti-Corruption Court summoning him.

Mwiraria is charged alongside Kisii Senator Chris Obure, who took his plea in March this year.

Senator Obure, former Transport and Communication Permanent Secretary Sammy Kyungu, former Postmaster General Francis Chahonyo and former Finance Secretary Samuel Bundotich have been charged with irregularly authorizing Anglo Leasing payments.

This comes after the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Keriako Tobiko called for the arrest of 13 people behind the Anglo Leasing scam in March this year.

Mwiraria and Obure are alleged to have used their powers, while in office, to sanction contracts and subsequent payments­­-some at inflated costs, to ghost firms or to companies which never delivered the services they were paid for.

Tobiko said he had given consent for the arrest and prosecution of the 13 over the scandal that saw Kenya lose billions of shillings in an illegal allocation of tender for the acquisition of passport equipment systems and forensic science laboratory for the police in 1997.

A French firm had put the cost of acquisition of the equipment at 6 million Euros, before the tender was awarded to a British firm Anglo Leasing Finance at 30 million Euros.

The charges were a culmination of over 10 years of investigations since the Anglo Leasing scandal came to public light.

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Maureen Murimi
Story By Maureen Murimi
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