Goldenberg scandal still a mystery decades later

By Rawlings Otieno

Goldenberg and Triton cases are still major scandals that have remained unresolved by the Judiciary.

The two scams that stole headlines in both local and international newspapers are to date pending before the court even after a Nairobi High Court jailed former Tourism PS Rebecca Nabutola and ex-Kenya Tourism Board Managing Director Achieng’ Ong’ong’a.

The duo will serve three years in prison after they were found guilty of defrauding the ministry of Sh8.9 million.

The case for Sh5.8 billion Goldenberg scandal, in which the Government lost millions of shillings in dubious export compensation claims for selling gold, stalled more than six years ago.

So far, a suspect, Eliphaz Riungu, who was the deputy governor at Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) at the time of the scam, died before the case started while former Treasury PS Wilfred Koinange died two weeks ago.

Other than Kamlesh Pattni, the other remaining suspect is former KCB manager Elijah Bii.

The late Internal Security minister George Saitoti and former CBK governor Eric Kotut were other suspects who had been charged in the multi-billion shillings fraud.

Cleared of graft

However, the two were cleared of wrongdoing after challenging the cases at the High Court.

Saitoti’s name was expunged from the Goldenberg report, which was chaired by former Appellate Judge Samuel Bosire.

Early this year, Pattni had written to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Keriako Tobiko, asking for a plea bargain, but the court rejected this.

The plea bargain negotiations had been going on for a year, stalling the criminal case which has been pending in court for nearly a decade.

Another high profile case — the Triton oil scandal — can be traced back to 2008 when Triton Oil Company was allowed by Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) to collect oil valued at Sh7.6 billion and sell the commodity without the permission of financiers.

In the wake of the fuel shortage witnessed in 2008 and following complaints by oil marketers and financiers, KPC ordered an internal audit of oil stocks in its systems.

The audit revealed that stocks amounting to 126.4 million litres were irregularly released to Triton Petroleum Limited between November 2007 and November 2008.

Triton was not entitled to the stocks, nor did financiers authorise the release as required under contractual arrangements.

Went into hiding

Yagnesh Devani is still facing criminal charges of stealing Sh1 billion worth of petroleum from the KCB Group and his Triton firm is at the centre of a number of suits filed against alleged irregular evacuation of oil from KPC custody worth about Sh8 billion.

Devani fled the country in 2009 and a warrant of his arrest issued. Interestingly all the accused have other cases pending in different courts relating to the Triton saga.

The case involving the irregular purchase of cemetery land in Mavoko by the City Council of Nairobi is still pending in court even as several officials implicated were removed from office and charged and some later acquitted for lack of evidence, including former Nairobi Mayor Geoffrey Majiwa.