Junior employees at Kenya Power are expected to testify against their bosses facing charges relating to procurement of substandard transformers worth Sh409 million.
Yesterday prosecution told the court it intended to rely on evidence from junior employees to know what transpired at the State corporation.
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The prosecution urged the court not to free the suspects on bail, claiming they were likely to convince witnesses to recant their statements.
“This interference is already ongoing. There are memos and phone calls not to allow investigators to their warehouses. These are not just mere apprehensions because calls have been made for the junior employees not to co-operate,” Senior assistant Director of Public Prosecution Prosecutor Alexander Muteti said.
“If you release them on bond, the ongoing investigations will be jeopardised,” he added.
Milimani anti-corruption court Magistrate Douglas Ongoti heard that there was enough proof that the accused persons had close ties with directors of the company that benefited from the tender to supply transformers.
“We have persons who slipped out of the country and we have applied for their warrant of arrest. Their hands are soiled,” Muteti said.
In reply, the suspects asked the court to dismiss the application to deny bail, claiming the investigating officer lied to court.
The defence said the accused persons presented themselves to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations on Kiambu Road contrary to the claim that some fled to escape arrest.
Kenya Power managing director Ken Tarus, his predecessor Ben Chumo and nine senior managers at the utility company face charges related to the procurement of substandard transformers worth more than Sh409 million.
The other top officials charged are Commercial Services Manager KP Mungai, Finance Manager Joshua Mutua, ICT Manager Abubakar Swaleh, Regional Coordination Manager Samuel Ndirangu and Supply Chain Manager Stanley Mutwiri.
Also charged is a couple, James Njenga Muingai and Grace Wanjira Muingai, and their son John Muingai. They are directors of Muwa Trading Company Ltd, said to have received millions of shillings to supply sub-standard transformers.
Yesterday, two more suspects, Daniel Ochieng' Muga and Benard Muturi, who are also employees of Kenya Power, pleaded not guilty to two charges of failure to comply with procurement laws. The two presented themselves to the DCI.
The defence argued that all the accused persons were kicked out of Kenya Power yesterday.
“The prosecution is admitting that the case is complex to them, that they will not secure a conviction,” the magistrate heard.
Lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui argued that the prosecution had hatched a plan to have the accused in remand.
“You are being invited to participate in an open-ended incarceration,” said Kinyanjui.
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Lawyer Katwa Kigen, also for the defence, argued that the prosecution had raised general allegations.
“They have not mentioned who those witnesses are. They have not identified who among the accused persons interfered with the witnesses. They have the option of placing them under the witness protection agency,” argued Mr Kigen.
The hearing was halted for 12 minutes after lights went out.
The outage would become part of submissions as defence lawyers asked the court to release their clients so they would hand over passwords to the new management.
The magistrate was told the accused had passwords that no other person had.
Kigen claimed the said tender was issued in 2011-2012 when a different regime was at the helm.
“None of the accused persons was in KPLC then or the tendering committees,” Kigen submitted before prosecutor Muteti rose to object his argument.
The 19 officials were later released on bail, though they had to spend another night at Gigiri Police Station since banks were already closed by the time the anti-corruption court Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti granted them bail. (See separate story below)
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The Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji ordered the arrest of the Kenya Power officials over corruption claims.
The DPP ordered the arrest of current and former senior managers over procurement of defective transformers and irregularities in prequalifying 525 companies for labour and transport contracts.