Court slaps ex-Kemri boss with Sh19m fine for fraud

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021 00:00 |
Former Kenya Medical Research Institute director Davy Koech at Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi, yesterday. Photo/PD/Charles Mathai

Former Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) director Prof Davy Koech was yesterday fined Sh19.6 million after he was found guilty of defrauding the institution a similar amount.

Senior Principal Magistrate Victor Wakumile allowed the scientist to pay the fine in two installments owing to his medical condition.

“This is a court of mercy and also a court of law, we do not want to take a 70-year-old to jail,” he said.

Koech, who was charged 11 years ago, was convicted of three counts of fraudulently acquiring Sh19.6 million from Kemri.

Charge sheet setails state that Koech  improperly conferred a benefit upon himself by transferring money belonging to Kemri from an account held at Standard Chartered Bank Ltd, Kisumu branch to an account held at Standard Chartered Bank Yaya Centre, Nairobi branch in the name of African Medical Services Trust that was controlled and operated by himself.

Instalments plea

The prosecution proved that using his office, he transferred Sh800,000 from the Kemri account to his account on August 16, 2006.

He also fraudulently acquired another Sh6 million from the institution by transferring the money to his account on December 4, 2006.

Koech was found guilty of improperly  acquiring another Sh12.5 million which belonged to the research institute on December 13, 2006.

In mitigation, Koech asked for leniency saying that he was ailing.

His lawyer pleaded with the court to allow him to pay the fine in five monthly installments.

However, the prosecution objected to the application arguing that the monies in question belonged to a public institution and was never taken in installments during the commission of the offence.

The prosecution argued that the money was not a loan taken out of Kemri and that the law does not allow a convicted person to pay in installments.

“Section 336(4) of the criminal procedure code is only applicable to matters of the criminal procedure code and the penal code,” argued the prosecution.

According to the prosecution, Article 27 provides that all persons must be treated equally before the law and in the particular case, Koech was requesting for preferential treatment before the court that they be allowed to pay the fine in installments.

“We, therefore, will be praying the accused person does pay the fine in full failure to which let him be committed to jail untill the time he is able to pay the amount in full,” said the prosecutor.

Quantifiable benefit

The State argued that the fine imposed by the court was not in conformity with section 48(2) of ACECA as it was equal to the amount stolen and, therefore, against the quantifiable benefit.

The magistrate, however, stood by his sentence and only allowed the scientist two months to pay the fine.

“The first installment should be paid on October 14 and the second installment on November 15.

I expect final payment by then and I hereby suspend the sentence until the payment,” ruled the Magistrate.

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