M-Pesa operators, tech expert in court over police sacco heist |

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Two M-Pesa operators and an ICT systems administrator have been charged with conspiring to steal Sh29.5 million from the Kenya National Police Sacco in an elaborate cybercrime syndicate.

Jane Njoki Gaitho, Alexander Odhiambo Otieno and Brian Samba Oluoch (ICT expert) were arraigned on Thursday before Milimani Chief Magistrate Lucas Onyina, where they denied fraud and money laundering charges.

Gaitho and Otieno, the Gikomba Market-based M-Pesa operators, were accused of allowing the outlet to be used to withdraw over Sh7,035,200 stolen from the Kenya National Police DT Sacco Society Limited.

The millions of shillings were allegedly stolen from the sacco between August 2021 and April 15, 2022.

The M-Pesa operators were also charged with money laundering for allegedly allowing withdrawers to access Sh7,035,200 knowing that the money had been stolen from the police sacco.

The three were accused of conspiring to steal Sh29,530,566 on various dates between February 7 and April 15, 2022.

Mr Onyina was informed by State Prosecutor James Gachoka that the alleged offence took place at an unknown location.

Oluoch, the ICT expert, faced several charges where he was accused of masterminding the crime.

Gaitho and Otieno were accused of aiding and abetting the commission of the offences by allegedly allowing their Brooknet M-Pesa agency in Gikomba market, Nairobi County, to be used to withdraw the colossal sums.

The prosecution told the court that at the time of the offence, Oluoch was employed by the sacco as an ICT system administrator.

Kenya National Police Sacco

From left: Jane Njoki Gaitho, Brian Samba Oluoch and Alexander Odhiambo at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi where they were charged with conspiring to steal Sh29.5 million from the Kenya National Police Sacco.

Photo credit: Richard Munguti | Nation Media Group

He was separately charged with stealing by servant Sh29,530,566 which came into his possession by virtue of his employment in the sacco.

Oluoch was also charged with fraud through the use of a computer.

The court heard that on the specified dates at Ngara area in Nairobi, Oluoch, being the ICT administrator of the sacco, unlawfully obtained an economic benefit of Sh29,530,566.

He allegedly created an unauthorised username ‘police Sacco.com/elizabethgacheru’ which accessed the sacco database and altered data by linking fraudulent mobile phone numbers to the FOSA accounts.

On the other hand, his co-accused, Otieno, faced two counts of aiding and abetting the theft, and money laundering. He was accused of aiding and abetting the theft by facilitating unverified withdrawals amounting to Sh15,799,150.

A defence lawyer pleaded with the judge not to be blinded by the numbers in the indictment and to release the defendants on favourable bail conditions.

“Your honour, I plead with this court to release the accused persons on favourable bond terms and I can assure this court that they will abide by the rules and order, which will be set by this court,” he said.

The lawyer further told the court that the accused have families to look after and are the sole breadwinners.

The court heard that Oluoch and the sacco are involved in an industrial dispute where the ICT expert has sued for terminal benefits.

“This criminal case against Brian (Oluoch) is a move to scare him to abandon the High Court case where he has sued the sacco seeking compensation for summary dismissal,” the lawyer said.

The magistrate released them on Sh2 million bond with a surety in like sum and an alternative cash bail of Sh1 million with two sureties each.

The matter will come up for mention on November 14 for pre-trial hearings.

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