Between September 6 and 10, 2001, a crime of fraud was committed from Post Bank customer service, through Western Union money transfer service terminal at the Post Bank House, where the bank lost at least Ksh3,450,000.
The money was wired to Uganda from the bank using the AVZF terminal using the passwords of two employees, Lydia Kurgat and Anne Njoki.
At the time of the fraud, the current ambassador to China Sarah Serem was the chief human resource officer at the Bank.
Ms Kurgat’s work account was used to send at least Ksh1.4 million to Uganda and the United Kingdom.
Court documents obtained by this writer show that after the fraud was committed, the bank’s assistant manager security Mr Daniel Mwirigi was arrested as the first suspect, alongside a former army officer and a businessman Phineas Njeru, who was accused of receiving the money in Uganda.
These were the only two suspects who were arrested in connection to the theft that left the bank’s Western Union reservoir dry at that time.
Under any investigative protocol, the two whose accounts were used are the first suspects, alongside their supervisor, but this did not happen.
However, Serem and the then manager in charge of Western Union Bernard Mwaniki Njeru made no effort to make sure the culprits were brought to book.
The two employees whose passwords were used transfer the money were converted to state witnesses, ideally against no one since there was no evidence linking the two to the theft.
The prosecution first accused Mwirigi of helping Phineas to get a temporary passport to go and collect the money in Uganda. However, it later emerged that Phineas got his passport in 1994, and Mwirigi was not involved in any way.
Phineas, according to documents in our possession, was also forced to sign a statement written by the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) officers, and his own that he failed to mention Mwirigi was discarded.
“I wrote a statement explaining that I had gone to collect some money which had been sent to me through Uganda by a friend of mine, a gentleman of Somali origin (Abdi Noor). After I had explained this I was taken to another room. About one hour later. I was called back and they told me that all what I had stated was true expect the person whom I had alleged to have had sent the money to me. Alusa (IO) said that it was Kirimania (Mwirigi) who used to send me to go and collect money for him as one Major Njau used to see me going to visit Mr Kirimania,” Mr Phineas’ affidavit read in part.
“After sometime, I was put in a vehicle belonging to the Post Bank and I was blindfolded. I was driven around for several hours until I found myself in a forest. It was already dark. I was told that I would be abandoned there. My hands and feet were tied up. Major Njau, Sergeant Mburia and Inspector Alusa told me that they would abandon me there if I failed to change my statement to show that it was Mr Kirimania who used to send me to collect the money,” adds the statement.
To save his life, he agreed to the scheme but abandoned them in court, court documents show.
He even volunteered to show the police Abdi Noor, but they refused.
Having converted the prime suspects to state witnesses in a crumbling case, this pointed out to a major cover-up.
The case finally collapsed for lack of evidence, and the two were acquitted on benefit of doubt under section 215 of the penal code instead of section 210 of the Penal code. People are acquitted under section 210 if appears to the court that a case is not made out against the accused person sufficiently to require him to make a defence.
Mwirigi was consequently fired by Sarah Serem without even being given the chance to defend himself.
“Western union money transfer lost money through fraudulent means and investigations were carried out. And as the tenon in charge of security at the bank, Mwirigi was found to have some questions to ant:tier. It was discovered that he acted in cohorts with another man.Even if the court exonerated him, the bank’s decision to dismiss him cannot be influenced by a third party,” Serem is quoted in complain papers filed with the DCI.
If Mwirigi was culpable, why was the evidence found by the bank not presented in court?
Despite several complaints being filed with the DCI and evidence provided on how the cover-up was done, nothing has been done to date and the people at the centre of the theft still roam free.
Mwirigi, who lost his job due to the fraud, says he has been threatened severally to drop his pursuit for justice.
“The bank has put a spirited effort to blackmail me in its letters to government authorities where I sought for intervention to have my case reviewed because I was criminalized by the bank, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Senior resident magistrate who refused to acquit me with a no case to answer,” he says.
In one of its letters, the DCI recommended that the case should be totally closed with no further police action.
“The file was placed before the Director of Public Prosecutions who upon careful perusal of the same, noted that there was no evidence to support the allegations made by the complainant. There was also no evidence of criminality on any of the suspects mentioned by the complainant. Accordingly, he directed that the file should be closed with no further police action,” read the letter in part.