Kenya is now seeking international help to follow the money trail and track down the directors of an Italian company paid billions of shillings for phantom dam projects in Elgeyo-Marakwet County.
Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti said Thursday that he had sought the help of both the United Kingdom and Italy “because that is where our money was wired”.
“We are no longer dealing with domestic but international organised crime,” said the DCI head.
At the same time, beleaguered National Treasury Cabinet Secretary (CS) Henry Rotich returned to the DCI Thursday for the third day for questioning.
The Nation learnt that Mr Rotich was pressed to explain why Kenya paid Sh7 billion to the contractor for a project that was not insured.
The CS had said in a paid advert last week that the National Treasury paid Sh20 billion to the Italian company and an insurance agency for both the Arror and Kimwarer dams, whose construction is yet to commence, 14 months after the money was paid.
Already, the DCI has contacted the Italian government to help Kenya track the signatories of the contracts, who have engaged Kenyan detectives in a “cat-and-mouse game”, according to Mr Kinoti.
In London, the DCI has contacted the National Crime Agency, whose mandate is to investigate organised crime; human, weapon and drug trafficking; cybercrime; and economic crime across regional and international borders.
“We are dealing with several companies with different directors. That is why we are going through this methodically and clinically. But the net is getting wide,” Mr Kinoti said on the progress of investigations. On Thursday, after perusing the statement by Mr Rotich, the DCI asked him to return and clarify some grey areas in his statement.
“I went through the statement and I realised that we needed him back to shed light on some issues. That is why he is with us here,” said Mr Kinoti.
The DCI appeared to get a boost from Britain this week, when British High Commissioner Nick Hailey pledged “international support to root out corruption” and asked anyone formally indicted in corruption to step aside to allow an unfettered investigation.
Mr Kinoti did not declare to the Nation whether he was treating Mr Rotich, who is now under pressure to quit, as a suspect or as a witness, only saying that the CS is “a person of interest”. This week, President Uhuru Kenyatta said he had confidence in investigative agencies and took on those “releasing statements” to defend projects riddled with graft.
“This is not a war against an individual or a community, but against a crime that robs us the opportunity to build a nation,” he said at the opening ceremony of the Sixth Devolution Conference in Kutus, Kirinyaga County on Tuesday.
Later, Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga accused Deputy President William Ruto of becoming a stumbling block to the war on corruption after he (Dr Ruto) questioned the figures given by the DCI.
DN body text: Dr Ruto had said that the figure in question was Sh7 billion and not Sh21 billion, which Mr Kinoti says he is investigating. “Don’t come and tell us it was not Sh20 billion and only Sh7 billion. Who are you to tell us? How did you know?” posed Mr Odinga.