Fugitive tycoon Yagnesh Devani was finally charged with stealing 318.656 metric tonnes of jet fuel valued at US$ 365,974.05 (equivalent to Sh1.5 billion), the property of Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB).
Devani, who has been on the run since 2008 when he is said to have committed the offence was presented before Milimani Senior Principal Magistrate Robinson Ondieki where he pleaded not guilty to four counts of theft.
The criminal charges filed against Devani and his company Triton Petroleum Company Limited range from theft to fraudulent disposition of mortgaged products acquired with facilitation from KCB.
He was released on a cash bail of Sh1 million pending pre-trial on February 12. The businessman was granted bail after the prosecution informed the court that they were not opposing his request to be released on bail.
It is said that Devani struck a deal with top government officials in 2023 to leave London for Nairobi to take the plea. He had a warrant of arrest on his head.
According to the prosecution, Devani used his company Triton to carry out the business.
He left for the United Kingdom when his co-accused were charged and the court issued a warrant of arrest against him.
The charges against him state that between April 23 and December 4, 2008 at Kipevu Oil Storage Facility in Mombasa county, jointly with others before court, he stole 2,000 metric tonnes of Automotive Gas Oil valued at US$ 215,934, the property of KCB.
The court was told that between May 15, 2008 and December 4, 2008 at Kipevu oil storage facility within Mombasa County, jointly with others not before Court, stole 418.134 metric tons of motor spirit premium valued at US$ 438,031.10, the property of Kenya Commercial Bank.
The prosecution further alleges that between November 2, 2008 and December 4, 2008 at Kipevu oil storage facility in Mombasa county, jointly with others before court, stole 12,782 metric tons of Automotive Gas oil valued at US$ 7,999,691.39 the property of Kenya Commercial Bank.
Devani faced alternative counts of fraudulent disposal of the said highly inflammable petroleum products. He denied all the charges against him and his company.
After running away from justice for 16 years, the long arm of the law finally caught up with him. Devani allegedly stole jet fuel he had purchased using funds provided to him and his company by KCB.
He had fled to the United Kingdom when his co-accused were charged and the court issued a warrant of arrest against him.
With Devani on the run, the state nonetheless proceeded with the case in his absence.
A former prosecution counsel Edwin Okello informed a former chief magistrate Gilbert Mutembei that the government had sought the assistance of Interpol in enforcing the warrant of arrest against the runaway business tycoon. He is accused of committing the offence together with Julius Kilonzo, Mahendra Pathak and Benedict Mutua.
Mutua also faces abuse of office charges in which he is accused of releasing the oil without the authority of Fortis Bank.
Source: People Daily Kenya