Ex-ministers, top officials charged over Anglo Leasing

Wednesday March 4 2015

By PAUL OGEMBA
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Two former Finance ministers were among 13 suspects charged with conspiracy to defraud the government of Sh7 billion in the Anglo Leasing scandal.

Mr David Mwiraria (who held the position between 2003 and 2004) and Mr Chris Obure (2001 to 2002) are alleged to have used their powers while in office to sanction contracts and subsequent payments, some at inflated costs, to ghost firms or to companies, which never delivered the services they were paid for.

The charges were a culmination of over 10 years of investigations since the Anglo Leasing scandal came to public light.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Keriako Tobiko, on Wednesday presented three files containing different charges for the suspects.

The first file had charges against the former minister and current Kisii Senator Obure, former Postmaster-General Francis Chahonyo, former Transport PS Sammy Kyungu and former finance secretary Samuel Bundotich.

Mr Chahonyo and Mr Kyungu are alleged to have initiated the procurements in a network of operations executed between March and July 2002, Mr Obure authorised the payments, while Mr Bundotich made the payments.

Mr Obure faced two counts of abuse of office and breach of trust by authorising the Ministry of Transport to directly procure VSAT equipment from Spacenet Inc for the Postal Corporation of Kenya without following procurement procedures.

“The minister, in abuse of authority of his office, granted special authorisation for execution of suppliers credit financial agreement between the government, M/S Spacenet, Universal Satspace and First Mercantile Securities Corporation for the data network project without due process,” reads the charge sheet.

Mr Chahonyo and Mr Kyungu faced similar charges of abuse of office and breach of trust. They are alleged to have initiated the procurement of VSAT equipment from the foreign companies without following procurement laws.

Mr Bundotich allegedly executed a deferred payment agreement between the government and First Mercantile Securities Corporation for financing of the data network project.

The four denied all the charges and were each released on a cash bail of Sh1 million.

The second file had charges against Mr Mwiraria, former Internal Security PS Dave Mwangi, former finance PS Joseph Magari, former head of debt management David Onyonka and businessmen Deepak, Rashmi and Chamanlal Kamani.

They were accused alongside Mr Brian Mills, Sound Day Corporation and Apex Finance Corporation, with seven counts of conspiracy to defraud Sh424 million and fraudulent acquisition of public property.

PRESENT THEMSELVES

Mr Mwiraria did not plead to the charges as he is said to be hospitalised after undergoing surgery, while the Kamani family will plead to the charges on Thursday following an order from Justice Luka Kimaru that they present themselves in court as soon as they arrive back in the country.

The Kamanis had, through their lawyer, Mr Ahmednasir Abdullahi, filed an application to stop the DPP from seeking a warrant of arrest, saying they had not run away from prosecution but were out of the country and would present themselves as soon as they returned.

Rashmi, Deepak and Chamanlal Kamani, Sound Day Corporation and Apex Finance Corporation were accused of acquiring Sh121 million under the pretext that they could purchase equipment to modernise police surveillance systems.

Mr Mwiraria, Mr Mwangi, Mr Magari and Mr Onyonka were further accused of abuse of office, failing to comply with procurement rules and engaging in a project to modernise the police security system without proper planning.

In the third file, Mr Mwiraria, Mr Mwangi, Mr Magari, Mr Onyonka, Messrs Rashmi and Deepak Kamani, Mr Bradley Birkenfeld and Infotalent Ltd are accused of conspiring to defraud Sh6.5 billion through computerisation of police projects code-named “E-Cops”.

Rashmi, Deepak and Infotalent Ltd are said to have received more than Sh180 million from the government, paid to their account held at HSBC Republic Bank of Switzerland.

“Mr Rashmi, Mr Deepak and Infotalent Ltd received a further Sh353 million to their HSBC account paid by the government of Kenya without delivery of the services,” stated the charge sheet.

Mr Mwiraria, Mr Mwangi, Mr Magari and Mr Onyonka allegedly engaged in the E-Cops Security Law and Order Systems for Kenya Police without prior planning and failed to define the method they used in procuring the services.

“In October 2003, Mr Mwiraria abused his office by granting special authorisation to sign a financial agreement with Infotalent Ltd for the E-Cops project and obligated the government to pay Sh6.5 billion,” stated the charge sheet.

Only Mr Mwangi, Mr Magari and Mr Onyonka were present in court and pleaded not guilty to all charges said to have been committed between July 2003 and June 2004.

Chief Magistrate Hellena Ndung’u released each on a cash bail of Sh3 million and directed that Mr Mwiraria appears in court on March 18 to plead to the charges.

She also issued an international warrant of arrest against Mr Mills and Mr Birkenfeld after the DPP said police had not been able to trace them.

The international warrant of arrest allows the DPP to request the International Police (Interpol) to help trace the two suspects and extradite them to Kenya.