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Firms owned by Waititu, kin received kickbacks, says EACC

Friday May 31 2019

Ferdinand Waititu

Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu leaves the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission offices in Nairobi on May 28, 2019 after being questioned over economic crimes. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

ERIC WAINAINA
By ERIC WAINAINA
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Three companies owned by Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu, his wife Susan Wangari and their daughter Monica Njeri allegedly received kickbacks worth millions of shillings for irregularly awarded road tenders worth Sh588 million.

The details are contained in an affidavit by Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) detective Regina Ng’ang’a, which was Thursday filed before Kiambu principal magistrate Brian Khaemba, in response to an anticipatory bail issued last week.

The affidavit claimed that the governor and some of his relatives received money through Saika Two Estate Develop, a company he owns with his daughter; Bienvenue Delta Hotel belonging to him and his wife, as well as Connex Logistics Africa, which is owned by his wife.

The politician has for the past few months been grappling with allegations of presiding over a corrupt administration that has been milking the county’s coffers dry and using the loot to improve his lifestyle, mostly acquiring property in Nairobi and Kiambu.

TENDERS

The county boss has been in the spotlight over acquisition of multimillion-shilling properties in Nairobi’s central business district, notably Delta Hotel and Jamii Bora House, Runda and Migaa, with his critics saying he has acquired them using stolen county money.

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While justifying the governor’s arrest and interrogation, Ms Ng’ang’a said the investigation was necessitated by complaints on alleged corruption and economic crimes, bribery and conflict of interest where money was irregularly paid to contractors and officials during the 2017/2018 financial year.

Ms Ng’ang’a said an analysis of documents they obtained showed that early last year, county executive for Transport presented a Cabinet paper dated January 24, 2018 on the proposed improvement of eight gravel roads to bituminous standard using soil stabilisation technology.

The projects, according to the county’s estimates, were to cost Sh610 million, with each kilometre gobbling up Sh29 million.

On February 12, the county, Ms Ng’ang’a said, invited tenders via an advert placed on Business Daily under the tender name “proposed improvement of various gravel roads to bituminous standards in Kiambu”, and on February 23 a tender opening committee was appointed.

FAKE FIRM

The bids were opened three days later wherein five companies had expressed their interest. And the following day, the tenders were evaluated and a report, which was signed on March 5, prepared.

An evaluation report showed that m/s Testimony Enterprise, owned by a Mr Charles Chege and Beth Wangeci Mburu, after quoting Sh588 million for the eight roads (inclusive of tax), was recommended and the directors signed the acceptance documents on March 9.

Ms Ng’ang’a said they established that Testimony Enterprise opened an account with Equity Bank on March 27, just 18 days after it signed the deal, which casts doubts on previous existence of the firm.

Further, the EACC established that on various dates, the firm that was paid the money irregularly paid a cumulative amount of Sh25.4 million to Saika Two Estate Developers Ltd, where Mr Waititu and his daughter, who have also been questioned, are directors.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

For instance, on July 2, 2018, the company received Sh16.8 million from the county, which was paid in four instalments of Sh3.7 million, Sh3.6 million, Sh3.4 million, Sh3.1 million and Sh3 million.

And on the same day, Sh2.2 million was rerouted to Saika Two Estate Developers’ account.

Another company, Bienvenue Delta Hotel Ltd, where Mr Waititu and his wife are co-directors, received Sh5.2 million from the company between October last year and January this year, which was paid in five instalments of between Sh643,000 and Sh2.2 million.

“Testimony Enterprise Ltd has so far been irregularly paid quite a substantial amount of money without raising certificates required to quantify the work. The money paid was thereafter transferred to either the Testimony directors’ accounts and later to the governor’s account, his wife, daughter and companies associated with the governor,” reads the affidavit.

But Mr Waititu said the cash was payment for land and fuel he had sold Mr Chege.