Former Chase Bank boss released to seek treatment

A Nairobi court yesterday released former Chase Bank chairman Mohamed Zafrullah Khan accused of conspiring to defraud the bank of more than Sh1.6 billion.

He was granted Sh30 million bond with two Kenyan sureties of a similar amount.

Zafrullah spent two days in police custody. His lawyer Cecil Miller informed the court that his client is not a flight risk.

Milimani senior principal magistrate Martha Mutuku also ruled that the accused is free to travel out the country for medical treatment but on return must deposit his passport with the court.

Zafrullah has denied five counts of fraud and theft charges against him.

The prosecution, led by senior state counsels James Warui and Victor Mule, had on Wednesday opposed his bail application saying he is a flight risk. They wanted him to remain in custody until the determination of the case.

The prosecutors told the court that investigating officer inspector Julius Musoga, in his sworn affidavit, maintained that the accused has other charges in five different files also involving millions of shillings.

The prosecutors insisted that the charges against chairman Zafrullah are not intended to block him from pursuing specialised heart treatment in the US.

But defence lawyer Miller informed the court that the prosecution's action to bring his client to court was malicious and meant to block him from seeking medical treatment in America.

He had asked the court to defer the charges since the prosecution had initially failed to set aside an order issued by the High Court compelling the release of his passport to facilitate his travel and thus resorted to hurry up charges in court.

Miller told the court that the charge sheet at the chief magistrate’s court was a reaction to Zafrullah seeking his rights to travel out of Kenya for a medical emergency.

He told the court that Zafrullah's passport was impounded last April, but on November 26, 2016, he was granted favourable orders to travel out of the country for the same treatment and return.

"He has since travelled and come back as the investigations went on,” Miller said.

He said that after failing to set aside similar orders that zafrullah had won at the High Court, the DPP rushed to prepare a charge sheet.

Miller asked the court to defer the plea by virtue that “it is premature, aimed at scuttling the orders of the High Court and preventing him from seeking medical care.”

The Senior Counsel submitted that the charges preferred against his client were not related to the two statements he was summoned to record at the height of investigations.

“If charged, the ability to enter America in the new Trump administration is non-existent," the lawyer said.

He said charging Zafrullah prematurely in the absence of him having access to copies of signed forensic reports relating to Chase Bank’s audits would amount to an abuse of the legal process.

"He is being denied his constitutional rights. He has been denied an opportunity to record a statement in relation to the charges,” Miller said.

The lawyer further submitted that the assets in question related to Islamic assets Musaraka were held in trust and have since been returned with negotiations still ongoing on how to return the remainder.

He said Chase Bank collapsed in April 2016 and has since been under the control of the Central Bank of Kenya.

Miller said a report had exonerated his client and that “none of the issues in the charge sheet relate to his statements”.

Zafrullah is charged with conspiracy to defraud Chase bank limited of Sh1.6 billion.

This article was first published by The Star on June 30