Tuesday May 30, 2023

Kenyan ex-minister given hefty sentence for Olympics graft

September 17, 2021

NAIROBI: A Kenyan court on Thursday sentenced former sports minister Hassan Wario to a six-year jail term or pay a hefty fine after being convicted of embezzlement at the Rio Olympics.

Wario was one of six Kenyan officials charged with abuse of office and the misappropriation of 55 million shillings ($545,000) during the Rio Games in 2016.

He was ordered to serve his jail term or pay a fine of 3.6 million shillings ($33,000).

Stephen arap Soi, a former Kenyan Olympic Committee official who served as team leader in Rio and was found guilty of the same offences, was given a prison sentence of at least 10 years or pay a fine of 105 million shillings ($954,000).

Both men, who were taken into custody after the sentencing hearing, have been given 14 days to appeal.

"Both accused were entrusted with leadership to deliver Team Kenya to Rio, and to bring good performance," anti-corruption magistrate Elizabeth Juma said in delivering the sentences.

"They managed to bring good performance, but in the process the government of Kenya lost a huge amount of money and this brought bad image, especially when the story was aired through the media."

Four other officials, including the former secretary general of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) Francis Kinyili Paul, were acquitted in the case.

Wario and arap Soi, a former NOCK deputy treasurer, were found guilty of diverting money and kit from US sports equipment manufacturer Nike worth millions of shillings which were later confiscated from a house in Nairobi’s upmarket Westlands suburb.

The charges covered allegations of embezzlement, the purchase of unauthorised air tickets, overpayment of allowances and expenditure on unauthorised persons.

Wario, who served as sports minister from 2013 to 2018, was Kenya’s ambassador to Austria when he was arrested in October 2018. He had pleaded not guilty to the six charges levelled against him.