10 Steps DPP Took to Narrow Down on Dam Scandal Suspects
The latest arrests of top government officials including Treasury CS, Henry Rotich, by DPP Noordin Haji, has sent waves across the nation.
CS Rotich presented himself to the DCI headquarters hours after Haji ordered his arrest. Treasury Principal Secretary, Kamau Thugge and other senior government officials are waiting to be arraigned in court on Tuesday. A total 28 officials and entities are to be charged. This came after an elaborate probe, that took 9 months, over the Ksh65 billion dams in Elgeyo Marakwet County.
At a press briefing in his office on Monday, the DPP ascertained that his team had evidence to prove that Ksh19.7 billion was lost through fraud.
“If the projects were carried out in adherence to the law and existing policies for safeguarding public interest, then it should not have cost Ksh63 billion. We have evidence to prove Ksh19,714,366,991 was lost through a well-choreographed scheme to defraud public funds,” Haji remarked.
The probe saw Kenya enlist the help of Italy, UK and Dubai, to finally crack the case and get much-needed evidence to commence prosecution.
This prompted the formation of a multi-agency task force to investigate and track down the activities and payments made for the dams project.
The other step saw Italy provide Kenyan detectives with CCTV footage showing where the deals were reportedly negotiated. Members of the task force arrived at the conclusion that the motive to embezzle public funds was clear.
“It was shocking on those caught in the video. It is clear on the motive,” an investigator told The Standard.
The investigating team comprising the DCI, DPP and the Attorney General’s office, also managed to convince the other countries to start prosecution of the foreigners involved.
While in Rome, Italy, Haji and DCI boss George Kinoti's team initiated a probe into CMC di Ravenna, the contractor of the project. Through this probe, the task force was able to establish that out of Ksh63 billion, the Kenyan government had made an initial payment of Ksh19.7 billion to cater for insurance, commitment and other costs.
“Out of this, Ksh11 billion for insurance was paid upfront. In contrast, if the borrowing was justified, a government guarantee would have sufficed at no cost to the Government of Kenya and mwananchi,” the DPP noted.
Further, €40,031,927 (approximately Ksh4.65 billion) was borrowed in addition to the principal amount, to pay interest before the construction, which to date has not commenced.
Following investigations into the payments, detectives established that part of the money paid was wired back to Nairobi, where it was withdrawn from a local bank and shared among a few people.
“They traced the deposits and transactions at the bank,” an investigator revealed. The task force was also able, with the help of Dubai authorities, to freeze the accounts.
Out of Ksh643 million that was paid by Treasury to the contractor, Ksh450 million, which was supposed to cater for the acquisition of land to build the dams, was sent to a private account in London, then Dubai, and later to Nairobi.
The new owners of the targeted land were to charge the government Ksh6 billion for the same parcels for which they had paid Ksh450 million.
Following the probe in Italy, CMC di Ravenna Kenya was cited among the companies that allegedly received Ksh100.6 million for services that are yet to be determined.
A valuation company for land and relocation services was paid Ksh19.4 million, despite the fact that the land in both sites is still occupied.
Another company was allegedly paid Ksh8 million for the supply of construction material, while an insurance company is said to have received Ksh47 million to provide a cover for the dams.
The Asset Recovery Agency was also joined in the zealous efforts to nab the suspects and has so far obtained freezing orders on various suppliers involved in the scam.
After camping in Italy, the team proceeded to Dubai, where it established that officials of a company registered there, were involved in receiving and wiring part of the money to Kenya.
The team used the information it obtained from all these joint operations and investigations to form a case that will be filed against the government officials and contractors.
At least five Cabinet Secretaries — Rotich, Mwangi Kiunjuri (Agriculture), Eugene Wamalwa (Devolution), Adan Mohamed (East Africa Community) and Peter Munya (Trade), were questioned over the scandal.
Their principal secretaries, top Treasury officials, those from Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA), Kenya Forest Service and several government agencies also recorded statements over the matter.
The failure by the contractors — CMC di Ravenna and Itinera of Italy — to commence the construction of the dams after receiving the mobilisation money raised questions. The financial struggles of the Italian firm involved are reportedly to blame for the failure to start works at the Arror and Kimwarer sites.
The project was to be a joint venture by KVDA, CMC di Ravenna and Itinera of Italy, but police detected several faults in subsequent contracts that were signed to warrant payments.
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