Detectives from the Serious Crime Investigations Unit are seeking to crack open a syndicate with links to top government officials that has defrauded suppliers of millions of shillings through dud tenders.
Officials at State House, the Department of Defence (DoD) and government ministries appear to be colluding with fraudsters going by recent arrests and witness statements.
At least two people have so far reported to have lost Sh240 million and Sh89 million respectively after they were issued with fake local purchase orders (LPO) to supply laptops and computer software.
To earn their prey’s trust, the fraudsters, according to police, organise meetings with “officers” inside the public institutions reportedly buying the goods.
Vendors are even instructed to deliver the goods to the same offices.
Several suspects have been arrested, some arraigned in court, and police say they are in hot pursuit of government officials abetting the crime.
On Thursday, police presented Mr Eric Otieno Atanga before Kiambu Senior Principal Magistrate Stella Attambo, where they were allowed to hold him for 11 days.
He is said to have defrauded a businessman using fake stationery from State House and DoD.
Police suspect that Mr Otieno, who they arrested on Wednesday, took part in conning Mr Charles Gathii out of 1,200 laptops worth Sh240 million.
Mr Gathii, the director of Micro House Technology, said that in January, he was approached by a Mr Douglas Simiyu, who claimed to be working at Nyati House.
Mr Gathii said Mr Simiyu informed him of a tender to supply 1,200 pieces of HP laptops, which he claimed were needed at State House for a security alarm project.
To convince him, Mr Simiyu took Mr Gathii to the delivery unit at State House, which is a protected area, to confirm whether the tenders were genuine.
According to a sworn affidavit filed in court by detective James Mwangi, Mr Gathii was introduced to Ms Patricia Mareka, who claimed she was a State House official. He was then given an LPO.
He sourced for the laptops and delivered them at State House’s delivery unit, where they were received by Ms Mareka, and he was issued with a stamped delivery note.
However, State House said on Thursday it does not have an employee by this name.
Even before he was paid, Mr Simiyu introduced Mr Gathii to a Major-General Nyapiindi, this time at the Department of Defence.
He was given an LPO to supply Sh40 million worth of laptops apparently for military intelligence to use in a surveillance system.
By this time, he had met “senior military officers” in full military uniform. He later learnt that no such tender existed from State House and reported the matter to police.
Meanwhile, “Major-General Nyapiindi” kept demanding a kickback to have the payment processed.
Police laid a trap for Mr Otieno and arrested him at Java House, Galileo Mall along Lan’gata Road in Nairobi, where he was made to believe he was going to receive Sh40 million on behalf of “Major- General Nyapiindi”.
Detective Mwangi told the court he was following up leads on government officials involved in the fraud. Mr Gathii also identified another suspect in court, who had promised him tenders at Jubilee Party.
Last week, Mr David Mapili, Mr Jackson Kiharo, Mr George Ochieng Onyango and Ms Mercy Wahiga Wanjiku were charged in Kiambu with defrauding Idris Ahmed Buro of Naliye Agencies Limited of Sh88.8 million using fake ICT ministry tenders.