Top KNTC officials questioned over Sh16.5b cooking oil import

KNTC Managing Director Pamela Mutua. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Top officials of a State corporation and a local bank were yesterday questioned by the Directorate of Criminal Investigation over Sh16.5 billion edible oil import saga.

Three Kenya National Trading Cooperation (KNTC) officials, among them the Managing Director Pamela Mutua, Tuesday recorded statements on the matter, which is also under investigation by the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission.

The bank officials were present to confirm how the the institution came to provide a guarantee in the transaction.

Former Trade and Investment Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria defended the importation.

KNTC got a go-ahead from the Cabinet in October last year to oversee the importation of the cooking oil as part of the strategy to lower the cost of living. But document filed in the National Assembly claim that KNTC had single-sourced companies contracted to bring in 125,000 metric tons of the oil.

The sources said DCI investigators have set a deadline of 14 days to complete the investigations and forward their findings to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The development came on the day that the Trade Cabinet Secretary appeared before the Senate Trade Committee, where she was hard pressed to state the amount of cooking oil, rice, maize and sugar imported.

The senators complained that KNTC failed to open its warehouse for verification.

But CS Rebecca Miano could not offer much help. “I would like to inform this committee that Kenya National Trading Cooperation Managing Director Pamela Mutua was not able to accompany me here today since she was picked by Directorate of Criminal Investigation officers Tuesday and she is still recording some statements,” said Miano.

Senator Karungo Thangwa (Kiambu) insisted they must visit the stores since even the CS could not confirm if she had been to the warehouse since being transferred to the docket a month ago.

Okiya Omtatah (Busia) said they were treated casually by the KNTC management when they visited their premises on Monday despite leaving other important activities so that they can establish the truth.

“I will have no other option but to walk out if this committee adopts another agenda since I was prepared to ask KNTC management some questions,” said Omtatah.

The committee Chairman Lenku Seki adjourned the meeting and directed the Cabinet Secretary to appear before the team at the KNTC boardroom tomorrow, adding that “her officers might not be telling her the truth on what exactly is happening on the ground.” 

The Kajiado Senator said the committee will ensure that it performs its work diligently.

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