Sacked Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri was yesterday grilled by the anti-graft agency in an ongoing investigation into an alleged illegal payment of Sh1.8 billion for maize supply.
The money was withdrawn from the accounts of the Strategic Food Reserve Trust Fund at Central Bank last year and paid by the Agriculture ministry to a private company as a pending bill for the maize bought during the 2016/2017 financial year.
The procurement was done during the tenure of William Bett as Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, but the payment was made while Kiunjuri was in charge at Kilimo House.
Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) opened investigations into the matter following claims officials at the ministry authorised the payment without prior approval of the oversight board and contrary to the Public Finance Management Regulations, 2015.
Kiunjuri was summoned to the EACC offices where he spent the better part of the afternoon responding to the questions from detectives on the payment to Commodity House Limited on June 28, 2019, for maize supply to National Cereals Produce Board (NCPB).
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The Standard learnt he was summoned through a letter dated January 14 - on the same day he was fired by President Uhuru Kenyatta and replaced by Peter Munya.
The letter states the commission is investigating allegations of corruption in the supply and delivery of white maize in the financial year 2016/2017 which was procured by the ministry.
The EACC detectives say they have so far questioned chief accounting officer at the State Department of Crop Development, Joyce Mutugi and another official Charles Minjire over the matter.
Yesterday, former Agriculture Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe was also questioned over the matter. EACC also plans to question Bett on January 31. Bett had served at Kilimo House between 2015 and 2018.
Anti-graft agency CEO Twalib Mbarak has written to Foreign Affairs cabinet secretary Raychelle Omamo asking her to facilitate Bett who is Kenya’s ambassador to India to appear for an interview at Integrity Centre.
Officials at the Strategic Food Reserve were on December 2, 2019, grilled at the commission.
They include Abas Mohamed, Susan Mukiri, Gerald Masila, Vincent Matioli, Josiah Orina, Johnson Irungu, Col Charles Owino, Noah Wekesa, Lucas Chepkitony, Charles Sunkuli and Julius Muya.
Principal Secretary (PS) Prof Hamadi Boga, officials at Treasury’s Integrated Financial Management Information System who authourised the payment and staff from the Central Bank have also been questioned, officials aware of the investigation said.