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Kenya Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich faces 'Dams' scandal

by Chris Mgidu NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s chief prosecutor on Monday directed the police to arrest and charge Treasury cabinet secretary Henry Rotich and his principal secretary Kamau Thugge over a scandal in dam projects in the country.

Noordin Hajji, Director of Public Prosecution said Rotich, Thugge and 25 other government officials flouted procurement rules and committed illegalities in the Arror and Kimwarer dams scandal.

Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for National Treasury and Planning Henry Rotich | Coastweek

  Haji told a news conference in Nairobi that the persons to be prosecuted flouted many procurement rules and circumvented to ensure Italian firm, CMC di Ravenna got the project.

"The officials who should have pointed this out failed to do so and went ahead to award the contracts to CMC De Ravenna of Italy to run concurrently while aware that the firm was, at the time of award, straining and getting into voluntary liquidation back in Italy," Haji told journalists in Nairobi.

"We also note that the same firm had been awarded three other mega dam projects that are either incomplete or are yet to commence," he added. Rotich has since been arrested.

The chief prosecutor said the offences committed by those implicated include conspiracy to defraud, willful failure to comply with applicable procedures and guidelines relating to procurement and engaging in a project without prior planning.

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for National Treasury and Planning Henry Rotich seen last week while addressing journalists in Nairobi on the 2019 National Population and Housing Census. XINHUA PHOTO - EMMANUEL SETH
Haji said whereas the alleged commercial contract signed between Kerio Valley Development Authority and CMC Di Ravenna/Itinera JV clearly states that Kimwarer Dam would cost 204 million U.S. dollars while Arror Dam would cost 252.19 million dollars totaling to 456.21 million dollars, the National Treasury negotiated a commercial facility increasing the amount to about 630 million dollars which is about 170 million dollars more than necessary or required payable on a timely basis without regard to performance or works.

He said the Italian company submitted draft technical designs in February four years behind schedule.

Haji also ordered the arrest of CMC di Ravenna top directors.

"We borrowed, the loan had an interest, borrowed more money to pay for the interest, this is massive loss of public finance," he said.

He said the loan for the two dams had matured and that the government was required to start serving it without a project on-site.

"Being cognizant that corruption always fights back and that there may be elements who may seek to exploit these indictments to instigate social unrest we have put in place mechanisms to monitor any such attempts, which will be countered with whole of government response," Haji said.

He said the officials will also be charged with abuse of office, committing an offence of financial misconduct, fraudulent acquisition of public property, knowingly giving a misleading document to Principal and willful neglect to perform official duty.

The authorities started the investigations in December 2018 and because of the complex nature of the case, sought help from foreign countries including the Italian and British governments including state organs to help unravel the scam.


Kenya Treasury chief Henry Rotich pleads 'Not Guilty' to graft charges

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s cabinet secretary for Treasury Henry Rotich on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to corruption charges after being arrested over a 65 billion shillings (650 million U.S. dollars) project to build two dams.

Rotich, who appeared before Nairobi Magistrate Douglas Ogoti alongside two principal secretaries Kamau Thugge of the Treasury and Susan Jemtai Koech of the East African Community, was charged with several counts including conspiracy to defraud the public, willful neglect to perform official duty, failure to comply with guidelines relating to procurement of insurance policy through single sourcing, committing an offence of financial misconduct and abuse of office among others.

The two Treasury officials were among 28 individuals implicated in the two dams scandal.

Rotich and Thugge were released on a bond of 500,000 dollars or 150,000 dollars cash bail after being charged over Arror and Kimwarer dams scandal.

Koech was released on 60,000 dollars bail with an option of 300,000 dollars bond.

In his ruling, the magistrate barred Rotich and his co-accused from accessing their work places which he termed as scenes of crime.

The magistrate warned the suspects against tampering with evidence in any form or approaching witnesses in the case.

The arrest on Monday of Rotoch marked the first time a sitting minister of finance held on corruption charges.

Noordin Haji, Director of Public Prosecution, said Rotich, Thugge and 25 other government officials were mandated to safeguard public interest since they flouted many procurement rules and circumvented to ensure Italian firm CMC di Ravenna got the project.



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