Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich is the latest top-ranking official to be questioned over stalled Sh65 billion dam projects in the country.
Mr Rotich recorded a statement on Monday at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations over the Arror multi-purpose dam and Kimwarer in Keiyo South constituency in Elgeyo Marakwet County. It is not clear if the CS was questioned as a witness or if he is under investigation. Yesterday, Rotich did not respond to our calls and text messages inquiring about the issue.
Yesterday, DCI boss George Kinoti said Rotich had recorded a statement in the probe into claims of fraud in the two projects.
“It is a fact he recorded his statement over fraud at the Arror and Kimwarer projects valued at more than Sh65 billion. The probe is ongoing and we will recommend to the Director of Public Prosecutions on our findings,” said Mr Kinoti.
CMC di Ravenna, an Italian conglomerate, is constructing the Arror dam in Marakwet West constituency at Sh38.5 billion.
According to officials, it is also undertaking a similar project in Kimwarer, Keiyo South constituency, at Sh28 billion. The two projects are being financed through a loan from the Italian Government.
State House officials said President Kenyatta was aware of the investigations into stalled projects. Yesterday the President was reported to have met with his Cabinet secretaries during which he is understood to have warned that those facing queries must clear themselves through legal processes.
“He told them today he is not going to transfer anyone. Natural processes such as these will sort themselves out,” a source within the presidency said.
The Arror and Kimwarer projects are being undertaken by the Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA), a body that was established in 1979 to undertake planning, coordination and implementation of integrated river-based development programmes in the Kerio Valley basin.
If and when completed, the Arror dam will produce more than 60 megawatts of electricity and the Kimwarer dam 20 megawatts, which will be connected to the national power grid.
A team of investigators has flown to Rome, Italy, to seek mutual legal assistance on various issues.
The team left on Wednesday morning and will hold a series of meetings with their counterparts there. The team wants to be enjoined in a case in which the Italian firm has filed for liquidation in Rome.
The directors of the companies have been going to DCI for questioning. They have retained lawyer Ahmedinasir Abdullahi to represent them.
“One director has signed an affidavit stating where money that had been paid for the construction of a dam went. It seems the money was paid as kickbacks to top State officials,” said another source who asked not to be named.
The director reportedly agreed to sign the affidavit after he was confronted with evidence on the ongoing probe. Officials said the director and his officials have been visiting the DCI almost weekly to update the investigators on what they need.
The investigators hired a helicopter to overfly major projects that are in progress to inspect the state of the development. The officers visited projects in parts of Uasin Gishu, Bomet, Kiambu and other counties as part of the probe.
Officials said a contractor working on projects worth more than Sh90 billion is being investigated for allegedly bribing senior Government officials to win tenders.
Part of the claims police are investigating are that the company is alleged to have paid a bribe of an unknown amount from a Sh4.9 billion down payment it received last year for the design of a project.
Officials want to know why the company was given the down payment yet the process of acquiring land for the project had not been completed.
The ability of the company to undertake the three massive projects to conclusion has been called into question after it was declared insolvent by a Ravenna court in December last year.
Other sources said the company in question is not the one under investigation.
“They had registered another company in Kenya with different directors. But what has happened in Italy has serious implications in Kenya,” said an official.
Last week, more than 500 contractors of various projects met with Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission boss Twalib Mbarak, DCI Kinoti and representatives from the National Intelligence Service.