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More arrests loom as probe into fake arms tender widens  

Wednesday March 18 2020
By VINCENT ACHUKA

The mystery surrounding the Sh40 billion fake arms scandal that has sucked in Deputy President William Ruto and former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa continues to deepen after it emerged that there were more players than initially thought.

More arrests may also be looming as investigations continue even as four suspects were charged on Monday.

The Office of the Deputy President, located on the second floor of Harambee House Annex in Nairobi, which has already been turned into a crime scene, was visited for the third time on Tuesday by detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

The detectives asked for more footage from CCTV cameras backdated to two days before last Thursday, the day Mr Echesa was arrested just outside DP Ruto’s office minutes after a fake contract for the supply of military equipment was signed.

Tuesday’s visit arose from reviews of CCTV footage from February 13 that had been obtained on Monday from the DP’s office. All the employees who were present on that day and who were identified to have come into contact with Mr Echesa were questioned yesterday. These included security guards, secretaries and orderlies.

The Deputy President’s office on Tuesday claimed that Mr Echesa had, on arrival at Harambee House Annex, said he had an appointment. But preliminary investigations show that there are no records showing that the former Cabinet Secretary had booked any prior appointment with anyone in the building.

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Who let Echesa in?

Consequently, the DCI is seeking to establish who let Mr Echesa and his allies into the DP’s office and why. This could be answered in the coming days after phone records from the former CS are fully analysed to find out who he called or met in the days before his arrest.

Meanwhile, the DP’s allies continued to put up a spirited fight, trying to exonerate their man from any wrongdoing. So far, there has been no direct evidence linking DP Ruto to the embarrassing scam, which took place in part in the executive wing of his office.

“In the purported DoD security equipment scandal, we know Rashid Echesa. Who are these other suspects Daniel Otieno Omondi alias General Juma, Clifford Okoth Onyango and Kennedy Oyoo Mboya? In a country where association matters more than facts, whose allies are they?” tweeted Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen.

“Their complaint is that they gave a bribe of Sh11 million and they didn’t get the tender. For your information, giving a bribe is a crime,” added the senator.

Among those to be questioned starting today is Mr Aleja Niepodlegosci, a Pole and director of a company known as Howells Investments in Warsaw. This is after it emerged that Mr Echesa and his co-accused visited the firm to allegedly inspect weapons a few times last year.

By last evening, it was not immediately clear whether Mr Niepodlegosci was in Kenya or still in Poland.

Documents retrieved from the suspects’ houses show that Howells Investments was on October 22 last year also awarded a similar fake tender to supply military equipment.

Also to be questioned is Ms Chrispine Oduor Odipo and Ms Doreen Naomi Ratemo, the directors of Pzel Company Ltd, located at Plaza 2000 on Mombasa Road, where the directors of US company Eco Advanced Technologies said they were taken for the first meeting last year.

Consultancy fees

Mr Mustafa Mamdough and Mr Stanley Kozlowoski, the two foreigners who claim to be directors of Eco Advanced, told investigators that it is at Pzel Company that they were told to part with Sh11.5 million as consultancy fees so they could land the military arms contract.

They were also supposed to wire 10 per cent of the total contract deal, or Sh3.9 billion, to Pzel Company once the deal was signed.

Interestingly, Eco Advanced already existed in Kenya three years before the date the directors claim the fraudsters contacted them while in the US, as the Nation found out.

A search at the Registrar of Companies shows that Eco Advanced Technologies has a Kenyan branch by the same name registered on December 5, 2016 with registration number PVT/2016/032394 as a Private Limited Company located on Chalbi Drive LR No 34 in Nairobi.

Mr Stanley Bruno Kozlowoski is listed as one of the four shareholders with a 21.43 per cent stake. Equally likely to raise eyebrows is that Mr Kozlowoski, who had told investigators that he is an American, is listed as a Kenyan in the shareholding structure of the Kenyan company.

The other shareholders of the Kenyan firm are Stanley Kigotho Miano, Peter Nderitu Muturi and Robert James Langlois.

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