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Reveal identity of the big payee in Waluke case

Sunday July 05 2020
WalukePIc

Sirisia MP John Waluke and business partner Grace Wakhungu in a Nairobi court on January 29. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By TOM MSHINDI

Whatever the outcome of the appeals lodged against the unprecedented court judgment that found Sirisia MP John Waluke and his co-accused Grace Wakhungu guilty of corruptly receiving money from the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB), this matter cannot be assumed closed until the identity of the person that received Sh112 million is known and they are punished.

It is actually embarrassing that the EACC prosecuted the case without trying to fill this gaping hole. Equally, it is not possible that the clever investigators at the EACC, the very sharp prosecutors at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) and the learned lawyers swarming the courts failed to see the missing link.

So, unless they were paid not to see, they must find and prosecute that person.

SH40 MILLION

In the same manner that they established that then lawyer and later Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza got Sh5 million, Ahmednassir and Abdikadir Advocates got Sh40 million, Grace Wakhungu and John Waluke received Sh40 million and Sh50 million respectively, and NCPB company lawyers got Sh34 million, they must know who got the big cheque of Sh112 million and the others that benefitted from Sh16 million.

Some obvious questions might point them in the right direction. Where is Jacob Juma’s name in all this? The late flamboyant operative was central to the scam to import maize. He planned that the NCPB issue Erad Supplies with the LPO to bring in the maize, executed the performance bonds and when the NCPB apparently breached the contract to issue a letter of credit to “trigger the release of maize”, he enforced the distress order to attach and sell NCPB assets because the NCPB had no money at that time to pay the Sh313 million it had been instructed to pay.

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The investigators should find out who made it possible for NCPB to get the cash that it finally paid to these people. NCPB is not a trading entity and gets all the cash that it uses to buy maize from farmers from the Exchequer. Someone, in all probability working with the late Jacob, planned the scam.

BARGAINING DEAL

They shepherded the process through all the critical stages, prepared the paperwork requesting funds for NCPB to pay the fines, worked the system to ensure that parliamentary approval was given.

They then “persuaded” Treasury to release the cash to NCPB and ensured that the corporation paid the money to these thieves.

This person knows how to play the system very well and whatever role Mr Waluke and Ms Wakhungu played, they are not the masterminds. They could confess and help unravel the mystery in some kind of plea bargaining deal.

But even without a confession, the movement of such amounts of cash is easily traceable. It is possible to know which bank received the money and have the bank reveal the owners of the beneficiary account.

Around the same time that this scandal was being closed and cash released, there were board changes at the NCPB. It might be very helpful to investigate those changes. Who left and who survived. They might have a story to tell.

And since there are always links and associations in these matters, it may be instructive for the investigators to find out who supported the late Juma to illegally obtain a mining licence for Canadian firm Cortec Mining Kenya Limited in March 2013.

Juma and his associates in government must have been confident that since the maize scam worked so well in 2009, the mining one could, too. And it almost did, before the mining licence was cancelled.

Tom Mshindi is a former Chief Editor of Nation Media Group and is now Managing Partner at Blue Crane Global consulting. [email protected], @tmshindi

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