Detectives investigating the multibillion-shilling dams scandal have trained their eyes on properties that may have been acquired from the proceeds of the Sh21 billion fraud.
Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji last evening revealed that preliminary investigations had established that a large number of government officials are involved in the scandal.
“I have noted the shocking magnitude of the amounts involved and the range of parties that are of interest to the investigations. This has in turn made investigations complex requiring investigators to cover a wide range of areas,” he said.
The detectives, including officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and prosecutors from the DPP’s office, are looking at the entire tendering process, the awarding of tenders without project designs, attempts to manufacture designs after the fact and failure to secure any of the land required for the projects.
Mr Haji added that the teams are also investigating the disputed ownership of the land for the projects, the failure to compensate landowners, the payment of Sh21 billion to contractors notwithstanding the anomalies in the tendering processes and the legal status of the alleged contractors in their home countries.
“Most crucially, we must get a handle on more than Sh21 billion that has already been paid out, trace where and whom every shilling has been paid to, trace and establish any intended corrupt payments,” he noted.
On the Kimwarer and Arror dams scandal, Mr Haji said the sum being investigated is Sh65 billion, with Sh21 billion already paid out.
“I have directed that financial investigations that may lead to identification of any properties that are proceeds of crime be given top priority to ensure that any ensuing prosecutions will not only be limited to securing convictions against the perpetrators of the fraudulent activities, but also be predicated upon recovery of public funds that may have been improperly expended,” he noted.
Mr Haji’s statement came only hours after embattled Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich spent long hours being questioned at the DCI headquarters on Kiambu Road in Nairobi.
At exactly 2.14am on Friday, a short text message was circulated to several journalists.
The SMS, from Nairobi lawyer Katwa Kigen, sought to assure Kenyans that Mr Rotich had finally left the DCI headquarters after being questioned over the Sh21 billion Arror and Kimwarer dams scandal.
“Hi, sorry, I couldn’t talk. We needed to explain something on the relationship between the procurement process, the commercial contract and the facilities agreement, which we have now done and left the DCI, thank you for the concern,” Mr Kigen wrote.
Mr Rotich, in the company of Mr Kigen, had arrived at the DCI headquarters at about 4pm on Thursday after being summoned on Wednesday to make “some clarifications” regarding information he had given to the detectives investigating the scandal.
The questioning, according to detectives privy to the investigations, revolved around the manner in which the contracts for the dams were procured and signed.
NOT A SUSPECT
Mr Kigen told the Saturday Nation that the questioning culminated in Mr Rotich recording another statement to explain the procedures followed in the procurement and signing of the controversial contracts.
“The process of questioning entails recording a statement and that is what happened. This is normal procedure in any investigations, you cannot go to a police station and just talk without recording a statement,” he said on Friday.
The lawyer however insisted that the detectives were treating his client as a “source of information” and not a suspect.
A source at the DCI, who sought anonymity because he is not authorised to speak on behalf of the directorate, revealed that Mr Rotich took the detectives through the processes involved in the signing of government contracts, especially the role of the Treasury.
He insisted that the Treasury’s role is to review and negotiate the financing terms in accordance with the government’s borrowing policy.
“All he wanted our guys to understand is that Treasury, and himself in particular, had no role in the usage of the funds, which he said lay with the line ministries and government agencies concerned,” the source explained.
Mr Rotich is said to have explained that the Treasury only released funds upon request from the procuring agency as long as it complied with the Public Finance Management Act.
On the commercial contract, the minister is said to have absolved the Treasury from blame, saying it was within the domain of the implementing agency, in this case the Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA).
Mr Kigen said the questioning ended at 10pm, upon which the CS was allowed to leave, having “clarified” all the matters the detectives wanted made clear.
On Thursday, DCI boss George Kinoti disclosed that he was seeking 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,” he said.
The Nation learnt that Mr Rotich was pressed to explain why Kenya paid Sh7 billion to CMC di Ravenna for a project that was not insured.
Mr Rotich had said in a paid advert last week that the Treasury paid Sh21 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.
Mr Kinoti said he had contacted the Italian government to help Kenya track the signatories of the contracts, who have engaged Kenyan detectives in a “cat and mouse game”.