More top officials face grilling as DCI winds up probe on mega dams scam

Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri addressing the press at DCI headquarters after he was questioned over the Kimwarerel Dam scandal on 14/3/19-[Photo: Beverlyne Musili,Standard]

Investigations into alleged multi-billion-shilling fraud in dam projects have morphed into a game of musical chairs as the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) weaves the last threads of file ahead of hand over this week.

It is a story of Cabinet Secretaries passing the buck to each other, a conspiratorial political class spinning yarns off it, and a DCI determined to nail all the culprits -- all conflating into a situation the Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji must make head or tail of in the coming days.

The proportionate pressure to see heads rolling and get it right has seen the DCI take more time with those summoned, like the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich braving three long days to say all he knows. Mid-way, the DPP has had to issue a half-time communication apprising the country of the developments and his expectations.

Next course of actions

It has emerged that four top government officials are lined up for the last round of questioning before the file moves to the DPP for the decision that will put to test the resolve of the dynamic duo of DCI and DPP to tame runway graft in top echelons of government.

“This is perhaps the most defining week of this probe. Barring any eventuality, the file will be moving off us and the next course of actions will ensue,” a source at the DCI’s Mazingira House offices told the Sunday Standard.

Cabinet Secretaries Simon Chelugui (Water) and Peter Munya (Trade) as well as two Principal Secretaries Susan Koech (health) and Irungu Nyakera (former PS planning) have denied they have a date with DCI next week.

Mr Munya was in the East African docket before he was moved to trade. Dr Koech was recently moved from East Africa to Health ministry.

“I have not received any invite to DCI. I am just seeing reports in the media,” Munya said.

Mr Chelugui has also publicly distanced himself from the controversial projects, saying they were under the East African Community (EAC) docket.

“These dams are under Regional Integration. They are not under the Water docket and I don’t under how am involved,” he said.

However, according to the investigators, the CS will be called for questioning over the stoppage of the multi-billion-shilling Itare dam, whose construction was also awarded to an Italian firm.

“I am very far from these dams’ issue,” Mr Nyakera said.

Koech told Sunday Standard on phone that she has not been contacted by the investigators over the ongoing probe.

A top government official who may be answering questions at DCI informed the Sunday Standard that the paper trail is there to show the persons who are involved.

“Everyone is publicly denying knowledge of the implementation of these dams. When the payments were made and who was in charge,” he disclosed.

Financial aspects

“In due course, the truth will be known, including who tried to block the projects. When finally the truth comes outs, all these blame games and shifting of goal posts with end.”

In the Thursday and Monday probe at the DCI, Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri explained to the DCI officers that the project was conceptualised in 2010 and 2011 but the process to procure started in 2014 when he was not in the ministry.

Interviewed by the Sunday Standard, Kiunjuri explained that he had no role in the procurement when he was at the Ministry of Devolution and that the contract was signed by Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) and the contractor.

“The financial aspects of the deal was signed by the Treasury with the financing company, in both cases the role of the Devolution CS was that of an observer in a transaction that had been concluded,” he said.

He said that when he went to the ministry in January 2016, it was at the tail end of the agreement and he only witnessed the process.

Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa and Kiunjuri are reported to have informed the investigating officers that they found the project deals have been structured and that the money has been allocated to companies.

There is also aspect of Sh11.1 billion insurance premium paid for a thicket.

Mr Wamalwa, who has not disclosed the details of his interrogation, nevertheless added a new twist to the investigations, saying the project was being shuttled among ministries.

He claimed he was kept in the dark on the happening and he is therefore clean as far as the matter is concerned.

Distributed grains

“I clarified that the two dams were not under my jurisdiction. I urge Kenyans to support the ongoing investigations and the fight against corruption by our agencies,” Wamalwa said, urging others invited not to fear presenting themselves at the DCI HQ.

In April last year, the Devolution CS and Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos distributed grains to families at Arror village and called for the speeding up of the construction of Arror dam.

Wamalwa, Kiunjuri and Rotich join the list of top government officials who have recorded statement on the dams’ saga.

Two weeks ago, Rotich was grilled by the DCI detectives for over 46 hours. The KVDA managing director David Kimosop was also questioned.

The Arror and Kimwarer dams have been at the centre of an investigation involving the dubious payments made to an Italian company CMC Di Ravena yet construction works are yet to start.

The two projects have hit the headlines after it emerged that billions of shillings could have been embezzled, with DCI boss George Kinoti and the DPP Haji pegging the loss at Sh21 billion, while the Deputy President William Ruto says is is Sh7billion.

The KVDA, through a joint venture between CMC di Ravena and Itenera of Italy with a loan from the Italian government, is to implement the multi-purpose project to generate 60 Megawatts of electricity to the national grid and enhance irrigated agriculture.

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CMC di RavenaDCIGeorge KinotiDPP HajiDeputy President William RutoHenry RotichGriling