Kenya: Defence Principal Secretary Mutea Iringo yesterday admitted he called Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Vice-Chairperson Cecily Mbarire to ask why a committee report implicated him in corruption.
Iringo told the National Assembly's Powers and Privileges Committee he was shocked that the report by PAC had ignored the submissions he made and, instead, recommended that he be investigated over Sh2.9 billion suspicious expenditure drawn for confidential accounts under the Office of the President.
The report relates to the Government's expenditure accounts during the 2012-2013 financial year.
"I expressed my surprise with the report as the information I gave was clear, but the outcome was different. After the report came out, I called Mbarire and asked her why the report did not reflect the information I gave to the committee. I was taken aback as the report was criminalising what I did," Iringo, said.
The PS is on the spotlight for allegedly bribing PAC members, among them Mbarire, to alter the report in his favour.
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Iringo's admission that he contacted Mbarire after the report's production immediately raised eyebrows among committee members who questioned why he chose to call Mbarire and not committee chairman Ababu Namwamba.
Mbarire was mentioned in an edition of the Nairobi Law Monthly as the conduit for dirty money to committee members, a claim that at one point is said to have caused a rift between her and the committee chair.
"Why did you choose to deal with Mbarire, yet you had the chairman's number?" Iringo was asked by Onyango K'Oyoo (Muhoroni).
"I don't know, I just called," Iringo replied.
According to Hansard records, which were read out by the Committee Chair Moses Cheboi, Iringo is said to have asked Mbarire why committee members decided to "crucify" him over the confidential expenditure, yet he had accounted for every cent when he appeared before it.
"Why are you people putting me in trouble?" he asked Mbarire, upon which the Runjenjes legislator confided in him that some of the recommendations in the report had divided the committee.
"She said that there had been no consensus on some of the recommendations in the report and that some of members did not sign the report," Iringo explained.
Iringo denied ever meeting the committee chairperson or any other committee member to offer them bribes.
"This is a scheme to tarnish my name and tarnish the name of the Government. This is not the first time that my name is being dragged through mud. In 2013, I was accused of embezzling Sh12 billion meant for CCTVs, yet there was no such budget. This continuous peddling of lies to make it appear as the truth is very unfortunate in Kenya," he said.
According to the report, Iringo presided over the withdrawal of the funds from an account at National Bank of Kenya that was running parallel to the one at CBK.
The claims were first made by Opposition leader Raila Odinga who said that billions of shillings were carted out of public coffers in the run-up the 2013 elections.
"There is an angle to this. How did (Sh)13 billion come up during the last general elections," questioned Iringo.
He was however stopped by the chair who told him that the committee did not wish to delve into politics.