Will Jambopay bosses pay Sh 1.1 billion public funds after DPP withdrew charges against them?

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Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji

Question as to whether Webtribe Limited, which trades as Jambopay will pay the Sh 1.1 billion they had been charged with embezzling from the National Health Insurance Fund after the DPP dropped the charges against them is still unanswered.

According to the Directorate of Criminal investigations George Kinoti, the Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji withdrew graft charges against Jambopay bosses, despite overwhelming evidence.

The DPP entered into a deal with Webtribe Limited together with its bosses Robert Muriithi Muna and Danson Muchemi, to turn them into prosecution witnesses to testify against their co-accused in the graft case. However, the said agreement does not state whether the firm or its directors will refund the Sh 1.1 billion that they received from NHIF, being taxpayers’ money.

The DCI terms the decision to withdraw the case as a huge blow to investigators and efforts they put in the matter and it is believed that the entire case might collapse.

Investigations reveal:

It was established that Webtribe limited was awarded tender No.NHIF/018/2013-2014 for provision of Integrated Revenue Collection Services and tender No. NHIF/001/2017-2018 for provision of Integrated Revenue collection system through a deliberately flawed procurement process to their advantage.

According to the investigations, the reason for the flawed procurement process was the item was not captured in the procurement and budget plan for the financial year 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 and despite not having been factored in the procurement and budget plan, the then NHIF boss Simeon Ole Kirgotty approved procurement of the said item.

The deputy procurement officer was instructed to prepare a procurement plan specifically for the item which upon consultation with ICT general manager, arrived at an estimated cost of Sh30 million.

“The value of the tender as per the resultant procurement plan was Sh 30 million and the procurement plan did not envision any commissions,” the investigators found.

It was found that the insurer, with the assistance of the evaluation committee, tender committee and with approval of the then CEO, awarded the contract to MS Webtribe at a cost of Sh 49,513,440.00 inclusive of taxes being one off payment and commission on transactions banks collections, mobile money collections, electronic cards collection and agency Network collection at four percent each.

Investigators said the actual value of the contract awarded could not be estimated and by the time the contract expired on 30th  June 2017, Webtribe had ripped off the institution over Sh1 billion in commissions noting that the company was only offering a platform (system) that would relay information on transactions conducted by NHIF and therefore it did not make logic for them to get commissions on what the system was expected to do.

It was established that the contract between the two had a three years lifeline and was to expire on 30th June 2017. However, on 25th August 2017 two months after the contract had expired, NHIF CEO Geoffrey Mwangi aided by the head of procurement Pamela Marendi made two extensions of six months each, thereby extending it by one year during which Webtribe limited fraudulently benefited from commissions of Sh 226,157,936.

It was further found that Webtribe did not fulfill the terms of the contract as per the expected deliverables as undermentioned which would have enabled NHIF to manage the system operations on their own. It also emerged that the company never provided NHIF with a webserver for which they were paid Sh3,500,000 and never provided NHIF with Point of Service Terminals (P.O.S) for which they were paid Sh16,000,000.

After completing investigations, the investigation team forwarded the duplicate inquiry file to the DPP on 19th November 2018 vide DCI letter Ref. DCI/IB/SEC./4/3/1/VOL.III/151 where Haji in consideration of the evidence presented before him directed the eighteen others, Webtribe limited, Danson Muchemi and Robert Muna to be with fraudulent acquisition of public property.

Due to the fact that Webtribe through IMSS had acquired crucial transaction records and NHIF members’ data and immediate termination of the services without an alternative would cripple the operations of the funds, prosecution applied for an order barring Webtribe from interfering with IMSS until the matter was heard and determined, which the court granted.

Attempts by the company and its bosses  to set aside orders by the trial court in the High Court flopped and later they resorted to threatening NHIF with imminent disruption of services through numerous correspondents to the fund payment was not made to them as a result of the continuation of services.

Webtribe bosses were made prosecution witnesses on condition they avail them and their employees to testify in the case against their co-accused persons.

Since then, Global Legal Action Network, a non-governmental organization has now written to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) over the move by DPP to drop charges against Muriithi and Muchemi and ensure they face the law over the financial scandal. 

Activist Omtata sues DPP over the matter

On the other hand, activist Okiya Omtata has since sued the DPP for allegedly encroaching on the mandate of the National Police Service.

He wants the court to rule that the DPP has no capacity in law to endorse charge sheets before they are registered in court and he does not have any powers or role to play in drawing, signing and presenting a charge sheet in court.

Activist Okiya Omtata at Milimani Law Courts at an earlier date

Omtata further wants the constitutional court to declare that the principal decision to charge or not to charge a suspect with a crime and registering such a charge in court is the culmination of and an integral part of the investigative process and it is strictly the exclusive mandate of the Police.

The activist also wants the court to declare that the DPP’s practice of endorsing or approving miscellaneous criminal applications made by the police, including police applications for custodial periods to hold suspects for further investigations, before the applications are filed in court, is unconstitutional.

According to him, the DPP’s mandate to institute and undertake criminal proceedings commences only where a charge is contested but the DPP, he said does not have any mandate in the criminal investigation process and has no capacity in law to call for police files before formal charges are laid in a court.