Prosecution banks on electronic data in NHIF fraud case
Monday, April 29, 2019 21:55
By SAM KIPLAGAT
Data retrieved from sieved phones and computers will be critical in the prosecution of National Hospital Insurance Fund CEO Geoffrey Mwangi and his predecessor Simeon Kirgotty over the loss of Sh500 million.
The prosecution Monday said they would rely on forensic report from the ICT Authority and cybercrime unit along with other 20,520 copies, mainly bank documents.
Mr Mwangi, his predecessor and 17 other officials were also charged with abuse of office through an irregular award and extension of a contract in which Sh500 million was lost.
Detectives seized phones, computers and laptops from the some of the suspects in December where experts are retrieving phone communication, including Whatsapp messages that have been deleted and e-mails.
Appearing before chief magistrate Douglas Ogoti yesterday, principal prosecution counsel Caroline Kimiri said they had supplied the defence team with all the documents, save for four reports, including from ICT Authority and cybercrime unit as well as the statement from the investigating officer.
The prosecution’s use of computer forensic electronic data -gathering for legal evidence use that is often deployed in pursuit of terrorists and drug trafficking probes, will mark a turning point in the prosecution of white collar crimes.
The State agencies have in the past used private firms such as East African Data Handlers to retrieve information from e-mails, computer hard drives and messaging systems like WhatsApp, including those altered or deleted.
Mr Ogoti directed the prosecution to serve the documents by May 10 while the trial date will be fixed by the magistrate, Victor Wakumile, on May 5.
Last week, Justice Mumbi Ngugi allowed the prosecution to serve the defence team with the bank statements and other documents digitally.
Mr Kirgotty is charged with seven counts including abuse of office, failure to comply with law relating to management of public funds and flouting procurement procedures.
The former CEO allegedly conferred a benefit by authorising payment of over 545 million to Webtribe Ltd, a company contracted to collect payments on behalf of NHIF.
Mr Mwangi is alleged to have extended the contract and authorising payment, which might have led to loss of funds at NHIF.
Mr Mwangi, Mr Kirgotty, MsRuth Makallah and Ms Pamela Nyaboke Marendi denied a charge of engaging in a project without planning.