Judge told former Treasury CS Rotich abused court process in Sh19 billion dams case

BUSINESS |

Former Treasury CS Henry Rotich at a Milimani court on November 1, 2021. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

Former Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich has been accused of abusing the court process by filing multiple cases to block charges facing him over Kimwarer and Arror dams instead of waiting to file his response during his trial.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji wants the court to dismiss a case Rotich filed last year over the Sh19.6 billion projects before anti-corruption court judge Esther Maina saying the former minister has lodged similar cases before different courts which are yet to be determined.

“The petition is a non-starter. A non-starter in the sense that it is basically speculative and is seeking orders on shaky ground. Once we substituted the charges, the grounds shifted thereby changing the character of the petition,” Haji said through senior assistant DPP Alexander Muteti.

In his case, Rotich said he was unfairly charged. He denied involvement in the procurement process involving Kimwarer and Arror dams. Rotich said the projects were a chain of events in which he did not participate.

Rotich claimed he was the sacrificial lamb. He alleged that even though his then Environment CS Judy Wakhungu requested National Treasury to borrow funds to finance the two projects, which were approved by Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) directors, they all went scot-free.

Rotich argued accounting officers in the Ministry of Environment, the Treasury, and the Attorney General's office ought to have been charged because they gave the project a clean bill of health.

Being Vision 2030 projects, Rotich said, they must have been approved by the Cabinet headed by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

He claimed he was erroneously roped despite the fact he was not part of the procurement process or an employee KVDA. He said the charges were in bad faith.

Rotich claimed the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, and not the Directorate of Criminal Investigations should have investigated the dams’ saga and urged the court to quash the charges.

However, the DPP argued the law does not reserve investigative powers to the anti-graft body alone. DPP argued that investigations power is wider than that of the EACC.

“The DCI can investigate virtually any crime committed within Kenya. Examining the petition and the arguments before you, they have not established by any standard irrationality on the part of the DPP,” said Muteti.

The DPP said while the bidder was CMC Ravenna-Societa Cooperativa Incorporated of Italy, the firm which was awarded the tender was CMC Di Ravenna and Aecom South Africa.

He said although the firm which was issued with the letter of award was CMC Di Ravenna South Africa and the contract was signed by a joint venture of CMC Di Ravenna and Itenera JV Kenya Branch, payments were made to CMC Di Ravenna-Itinera JV at Intesa Sanpaolo SPA Bank in London.

The DPP said at the time the contracts were executed, CMC Di Ravenna-Itenera JV was a ghost company as it had not been registered.

Meanwhile, EACC argued it ought not to be in the case as it did not investigate the saga. It urged the court to compel Rotich to shoulder costs.

“It is a decision by the DCI which is being challenged and not the EACC. Despite the EACC raising this, the applicant did not rectify the anomaly by removing the EACC,” the commission argued.

Justice Maina will determine the case next year.

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