NAIROBI, Kenya – (ViaNews) – Director of Public Prosecution, Noordin Haji, has continued his crackdown on graft by opening the cold case of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. In the aftermath of the sporting showpiece, reports emerged that millions of Kenyan shillings were embezzled in the far too common scenario of funds misappropriation.
Haji, bullish in his approach has gone after some high ranking officials since he took charge in March 2018. On Saturday, he summoned seven key persons of interest in the case to surrender to the police for their roles in what became the ‘Rio fiasco’. According to the press statement seen by Via News, some high ranking government officials are part of the people Haji has given the notice to appear at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters by October 15, 2018.
Former Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Sports, Culture and the Arts, Hassan Wario, and his then Principal Secretary, Richard Ekai, spearhead that list. Also served with the notice is former National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) deputy treasurer, Stephen Soi. According to a parliamentary probe done in September 2016, Soi was heavily mentioned by other NOCK officials as the go-to person in terms of handling the finances.
In a shocking move, Soi admitted to the probe committee of personally carrying about Ksh. 25 million (approximately $25,000) in cash to the games in Brazil. Then, he boldly stated that it was common practice, especially before major championships. The money, according to Soi, was for unexpected costs and emergency funds. Despite this, members of Team Kenya and support officials reported incidences of lacking proper accommodation. Others such as former marathon great, Catherine Ndereba, were forced to share beds.
The investigation revealed that NOCK spent millions of shillings on accommodation for President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto. Their rooms on the luxury cruise ship went unoccupied for the entire duration of the competition. Haji said that fresh investigation into the Rio case warranted further action from his office.
“During the Rio Olympics, the government set aside Ksh. 544 million to facilitate athletes participating in the Games. Unfortunately, part of the funds was mismanaged thus denying the athletes proper facilitation. The Directorate of Criminal Investigations received a report in December 2016 from the Kenyan athletes on alleged mismanagement of millions of shillings meant for Team Kenya.
Upon independent review and consideration of the evidence contained in the inquiry file, I am satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to charge the suspects for misappropriation over Ksh.55 million,” Haji said in a press statement.
The four others alongside Wario, Soi, and Ekai formally sanctioned by Haji include:
- i) Harun Komen who was the Administration Director at the Sports Ministry.
- ii) Patrick Kimathi who was the former finance officer at the Sports Ministry.
- iii) Kipchoge Keino who is an athletics legend in Kenya and the world. At the time, he served as the NOCK president.
- iv) Francis Paul who is the former NOCK Secretary-General.
They have all been charged for committing six counts of abuse of office and failure to comply with existing laws regarding management of public funds. Since the Rio fiasco became public knowledge, very little progress has been made to bring those culpable to book. It remains to be seen whether an action will be taken or if it unsurprisingly adds to the many unresolved graft cases in Kenya.