Bishop Gakuyo charged with conspiracy to defraud investors Sh1bn

David Kariuki Ngari alias Gakuyo

In this file photo, Bishop David Kariuki Ngari, alias Gakuyo. He was granted a Sh10m cash bail. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

A Nairobi-based televangelist has been charged with conspiring to defraud members of the public of more than Sh1 billion.

Bishop David Kariuki Ngari, alias Gakuyo, who runs Ekeza Sacco is facing charges of obtaining money by pretending that he was in a position to invest in real estate and money markets.

The accused denied the charges before Judge Ben Mark at the Milimani Law Courts.

He denied 12 counts of fraud and was released on a cash bail of Sh10 million. He was ordered to deposit his passport in court. 

State prosecutor Henry Kinyanjui did not oppose the release of the accused on bail. 

However, he asked the court to consider that the matter was of great public interest.

Defence lawyers, Mwenda Njagi, Danstan Omari and Njiru Mdegwa, had asked the court to grant their client reasonable bail terms.

"Your honour, bishops have no money. They live on tithe and offertory. His fellow parishioners will contribute to having him be freed on bond," Mr Omari told the court.

But Mr Kinyanjui responded by saying members of the public lost their hard-earned money.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), through Corporal Bernard Gikandi, on Friday sought a court order to detain Mr Gakuyo for four days to complete investigations into the fraud in which members of the Ekeza Sacco lost over Sh1 billion.

DCI made the application through the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions seeking to detain the accused at Muthaiga Police Station.

Senior Resident Magistrate Geoffrey Onsaringo granted the orders for the lock-up of the accused for three days despite opposition from the suspect's team of lawyers.

Mr Gakuyo had opposed the application through his 10 lawyers led by Ndegwa Njiru and Danstan Omari.

Corporal Gikandi said he was investigating a case of theft and money laundering involving the bishop.

The detective said over Sh1 billion was stolen by the bishop and companies linked to him from over 50,000 victims spread across the republic.

"The investigation is at an advanced stage and the defendant (Gakuyo) is likely to be charged in several cases involving more than 50,000 victims," Gikandi said.

"There has been a public outcry from the said victims and other affected persons over the funds lost and/or allegedly stolen by the respondent (Gakuyo) and companies associated with him in view of the closure of the offices of the respondent and the said companies."

The companies include Ekeza Sacco Society Limited, Gakuyo Real Estate and Gakuyo Investors Club.

He said Gakuyo was aware of the ongoing investigations and his pending arraignment, adding that the accused was a flight risk because he was arrested at the immigration desk at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport while attempting to flee.

He produced a boarding pass booked by the accused to prove his claim.

But Mr Gakuyo's lawyers said the investigation had been ongoing for five years and he had been available to investigators during that time.

The accused was arrested at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport while trying to flee the country to Zambia.