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Raila was aware of graft claims against Ngilu, House team told

BUSINESS
By | December 3rd 2010

Prime Minister Raila Odinga was aware of corruption allegations in Charity Ngilu’s ministry before visiting Kitui region where he defended her.

The Finance PS Joseph Kinyua told parliamentary Lands and Natural Resources departmental committee Water PS David Stower sidestepped him and opted for investigation by the Efficiency Monitoring Unit under the Prime Minister’s Office.

"The PM’s attention must have been drawn to the matter, otherwise he’d not have commented on something that he was not aware of," said Kinyua.

The PS said he wrote Mr Stower a letter and copied it to the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) to investigate what appeared as credible claims of corruption at Tanathi Water Services Board.

Stower replied the letter to the PS in the Prime Minister’s Office, Dr Mohammed Isahakia, and copied it to Mr Kinyua, but left out KACC.

"Ideally, this breach in procedure raises questions as to why the PS (Stower) did not want to write directly to me, because I was the one who initiated the discussion. For him to have deviated was not in line with the financial regulations of the Government," Kinyua told the committee chaired by Mr Mutava Musyimi (Gachoka, PNU).

Eldoret North MP William Ruto speaks to journalists Thursday after attending the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation Forum. He termed the ICC probe a ‘fraud’. [PHOTO: COLLINS KWEYU/STANDARD]

He added that it was the Treasury’s mandate to supervise the expenditure of taxpayers’ money and ensure it was properly accounted for.

"If there’s reason to suspect that something is not going on properly, then Treasury has the mandate to step in and investigate," he said.

Upon further questioning by MPs Kiema Kilonzo, Silas Muriuki and Benjamin Washiali, the Finance PS said the EMU should not in the first place handle investigation on Government spending.

"The EMU is not quite an institution that we believe has the capacity to investigate corruption in Government expenditure. That’s why we use Treasury’s Internal Audit Department and at times, on the advise of the Kenya National Audit Office, we may hire external auditors. But if it happens like it did in this case, we go straight to KACC," said Kinyua.

He also criticised the existence of EMU, formerly under the Office of the President, alleging it has neither a legal basis nor capacity to audit Government departments.

Opposed plan

Kinyua said he also opposed a plan to create more regional water services boards as proposed by Ms Ngilu and Parliament on Wednesday.

He accused some Government officials of working against official policy. Internal Auditor General at the Treasury Philip Ndung’u told the committee that a preliminary audit of Tanathi Water Services Board discovered grossly inflated purchase prices and has sought the help of the Registrar of Companies to find out who owns the companies that won contracts at the troubled board.

"We have come across inflated prices for tools and implements," said Ndung’u. He said some prices were highly inflated and disclosed that the auditors from Treasury are trying to find out if officials at the troubled firm violated the Public Officers Ethics Act and the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act.

Tanathi Board of Directors were recently suspended following claims of massive corruption and conflict of interest in procurement.

Ndung’u said Treasury will conclude phase one of its investigation by December 17 and a detailed one in January, next year.

Stories by David Ochami, Martin Mutua and John Njiraini

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