Close to two years after his death on October 23, 2017, Dr Wilson Muchiri’s bank account held at Absa Bank Kenya recorded suspicious activities between April and May 2019, in what resulted to Ksh18 million withdrawals allegedly authorised by Dr Muchiri himself.
The withdrawals were done through bankers cheques allegedly signed by Dr Muchiri, and authorised by senior bank officers, two of whom were shown the door after the fraud was discovered.
It is alleged that the fraudsters colluded with bank officials to sweep the account clean, with two officials at one time authorising the withdrawal of over Ksh5.2 million.
Two of the officials whose sacking was upheld by High Court judge Nzioki Makau include Mr Douglas Wanjohi and Mr Joseph Wanyeji.
The two had moved to court demanding to be paid a severance compensation of Ksh9.4 million for unfair dismissal. However, court found that they were fairly dismissed after unlawfully authoring the withdrawals.
Mr Wanjohi approved the release of Ksh4.775 million, while Mr Wanyeji allowed the withdrawal of Ksh455,000 from Dr Muchiri’s account.
A whistleblower reported the suspicious activity to the lender, which investigated the case and found that at least 20 cheques signed by Dr Muchiri had been issued, authorising payments.
The account was held jointly with Ms Patricia Macharia, Dr Muchiri’s wife who at this time had applied for a new cheque book. Three cheques allegedly signed by Dr Muchiri were flagged, and processing suspended unless there was approval from senior bank managers.
At this time, 17 cheques had been issued and approved, with Mr Wanjohi approving five fake cheques, while Mr Wanyeji had approved one.
The cheque approved by Mr Wanyeji was was not registered in Absa’s system, but was nevertheless approved.
Mr Wanjohi worked as a supervisor in document preparation while Mr Wanyeji worked in the visa platform connect (VPC) processing department.
“The claimants were in positions of trust and as they were bound to ascertain the veracity of a cheque before payment. There was failure on their part that entitled Barclays Bank of Kenya to terminate their services,” the judge said.
“They were given a hearing and even had their appeals considered and nothing in the proceedings even remotely suggests that they were not accorded the safeguards under Section 41 of the Employment Act. As there was cause to terminate in terms of Section 43, the dismissal was fair and for a valid reason in terms of Section 45 of the Employment Act. “
Mr Wanjohi claimed that his work was overwhelming which made it difficult to verify signatures on all cheques that came his way.
Before his death, Dr Muchiri worked as a ear, nose and throat surgeon with a clinic in Nairobi’s Hurlingham and was also a consultant at Gertrude’s Hospital. Dr Muchiri was also a part time lecturer at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).