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Nairobi trio in court for stealing relief food

The proprietors of a company that sources food stuff for distribution to hunger-stricken areas have been charged with defrauding two suppliers of cooking oil valued at over Sh33 million.

Seth Onyango Orinda and Leon Ondogo Otieno were charged alongside a transporter namely Richard Maina Mwaniki before senior principal magistrate Esther Kimilu at the Milimani Law Courts.

But Orinda and Otieno pleaded with Ms Kimilu to allow them to settle the matter out of court by refunding Sh4,332,000 obtained from a trader Abdiwahab Aden Arte whom they supplied 1,040 20 litre Jericans of Salit Cooking Oil.

In total, the three were accused of conspiring to defraud Hussein Adow Mohammed and Rajula Adimo from whom they allegedly obtained 6,020 litres of Salit Cooking Oil on diverse dates between November 15 and December 23, 2022.

The accused faced fraud and money laundering charges.

Ms Kimilu was informed by state prosecutor Ms Anne Munyua the value of the cooking oil, meant for some of the starving people in the hunger-stricken arid areas in 23 counties was Sh33,110,000.

Although Ms Kimilu freed the accused who were arrested on December 23, 2022 on bond, she was informed by the Investigating officer, Mr Shamalla , that police are still pursuing other suspects involved in the massive food fraud.

“I do not oppose the release of the accused persons on bond. The complainants want to recover over Sh4million from them plus the cooking oil stored in a city Godowns ,” lawyer Abdullahi Bare for the complainants told Ms Kimilu.

Added Bare: “I need time to consult with defence lawyers to agree on the terms of the settlement. I will file a report in this court through the prosecutor Ms Munyua.”

Barre had earlier opposed the release of the suspects on bond saying the complainants Messrs Rajula, Mohammed and Arte have lost huge business and millions of shillings in the shadowy business transactions.

But Orinda, Otieno and Mwaniki opposed the detention plea saying they were doing clean business.

They pleaded with the magistrate to tilt the wheels of justice in their favour.

The fraud suspects said they would have settled the dispute which is of civil nature had they not been locked up from December 23, 2022.

The accused informed the court that crime detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) raided their offices in Westlands, Nairobi and took away computers, business files and a Sh310,000 for forensic investigations.

They prevailed upon the magistrate to free them on bond promising not to interfere with prosecution witnesses.

“We will comply with the bond terms that will be imposed on us by this court,” the accused mitigated.

Ms Kimilu who froze the bank accounts of the accused while granting them bond warned them of dire consequences should they interfere with the cause of justice.

Orinda was granted a bond of Sh2million with one surety of a similar amount or he deposits a cash bail of Sh800,000 in the alternative.

Otieno was directed to deposit a bond of Sh1million with an alternative cash bail of Sh500,000 while Mwaniki was granted bond of Sh800,000 with an alternative cash bail of Sh300,000.

The magistrate had earlier been told the main players in the alleged cooking oil saga were Orinda and Otieno while Mwaniki was only a transporter whose duty was to deliver the items where he was instructed to take them.

A fourth suspect in the case Mr Gibson Karue Wanduru was dropped then converted to a prosecution witness.

The case will be mentioned on January 16, 2023, for further directions.

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