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‘Daily Nation’: Wario leads faces of Rio Olympics cash theft

By SAM KIPLAGAT

NAIROBI, December 8 2019 – FORMER Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario has a case to answer over the 2016 Olympics fiasco in Rio de Janeiro, where senior officials were accused of embezzling funds meant for athletes.

A Nairobi anti-corruption court ruled that Dr Wario, former Permanent Secretary in the ministry Richard Ekai, who had also been appointed Kenya’s ambassador to Russia, and Haron Komen, the former director of administration at the Ministry of Sports, should defend themselves against the accusations.

Top: At a function when he was Minister of Sports, Culture and the Arts, Hassan Wario (left) with pay television -- StarTimes – chief executive officer Leo Lee. Above: Dr Wario (right) with President of IAAF (Federation of International Athletics Associations) Lord Seb Coe

Top: At a function when he was Kenya’s Minister of Sports, Culture and the Arts, Hassan Wario (left) with pay television — StarTimes – chief executive officer Leo Lee. Above: Dr Wario (right) with President of IAAF (Federation of International Athletics Associations) Lord Seb Coe

Others are Stephen Kiptanui arap Soi, who was chef de mission, the then National Olympic Committee secretary Francis Kinyili Paul and Patrick Kimathi Nkabu. The officials faced a total of 19 counts and the prosecution called a total of 28 witnesses, who testified during the trial.

The charges include engaging in a project without prior planning, abuse of office, willful failure to comply with applicable procedures and guidelines relating to the management of public funds and fraudulent acquisition of public funds.

Richard Ekai was Parmanent Secretary at sports ministry when the Rio de Janeiro scandal broke

Richard Ekai was Parmanent Secretary at sports ministry when the Rio de Janeiro scandal broke

Francis Kinyili Paul, the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) secretary general

Francis Kinyili Paul, the then National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) secretary general

The officials have been accused of sending undeserving persons to Rio and double payment of allowances, among other abuses that led to the loss of public funds.

Excess payments

The court was told of how the tickets were procured and how the ministry settled on Green Bay Travel Ltd to procure tickets on its behalf. Officials were also paid more than what had been recommended by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.

Haron Komen was head of administration at sports ministry

Haron Komen was head of administration at sports ministry

Stephen K arap Soi (centre) was NOCK official head of the mission to the Rio games

Stephen Kiptanui arap Soi (centre) was NOCK official head of the mission to the Rio games

About 184 people travelled to the Rio Olympics and the total amount paid out as allowances was $1,502850 (about Sh150 million).

The initial team comprised 89 athletes and 68 officials, but the number surged, forcing some to be sent back home. The huge number forced officials and athletes to share rooms.

Chief Magistrate Elizabeth Juma set February 3 as the date when the accused will start defending themselves.

 

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