Former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu paid Sh380 million in eight months to acquire a hotel in Nairobi, a court has heard.
Rahab Mwihaki Karoki, the director of Superiorfones Communications Ltd, told the court that Waititu paid her the money to acquire Delta Hotel along University Way in Nairobi between February and October 2018.
“I was introduced to Waititu by a friend who said he wanted to buy the hotel. After we signed an agreement, he paid me the purchase price and I transferred the property to his company called Saika Two Estate Developers Ltd,” said Ms Karoki.
Ms Karoki testified that the former governor even paid off a loan secured against the hotel before assuming ownership.
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The businesswoman was testifying in a case where Waititu, his wife Susan Wangari, businessman Charles Chege, his wife Beth Wangeci, and six former Kiambu County officials are facing prosecution over conspiracy to defraud Sh588 million.
According to the prosecution, after the county government paid the money to Chege’s company, Testimony Enterprises, for roads repair, Waititu received kickbacks that he allegedly used to acquire the hotel.
Ms Karoki told Anti-Corruption Chief Magistrate Thomas Nzyoki that she was introduced to Waititu by Chege. “I wanted to build another hotel in Naivasha and after negotiations with Waititu, we reached an agreement on the modalities he would pay the agreed price of Sh380 million,” she said.
She testified that the former governor paid a 10 per cent deposit of Sh38 million in February 2018 before following it up with another Sh14 million in March 2018.
The businesswoman told the court that Waititu and his company, Saika, paid her Sh238 million in April 2018, after which she transferred the hotel.
“He had made substantial payments in April 2018 and we signed a transfer agreement for his company to take possession of the property even before he completed the balance,” said Karoki.
According to the witness, she received a total of Sh6 million directly from Chege’s company that was awarded the contract to repair Kiambu roads. When she asked him the reason for the payment, he told her that it was part of the money for Waititu to purchase the hotel.
She said that as of October 2018, Waititu had paid a total of Sh351 million to acquire Delta Hotel, with a balance of Sh29 million.
The accused, including the former County Chief Officer for Roads Luka Mwangi, are also facing another count of money laundering in relation to the irregular award of Sh588 million contracts for road repair.
Waititu and his wife are accused of receiving a total of Sh51 million through their companies-Saika Two Estate Developers Ltd and Benvenue Delta Hotel-as kickbacks for awarding the contract to Chege’s company.
The prosecution alleges that the county’s minister for roads and transport used his office to approve and confer a benefit of Sh588,198,328 to Testimony Enterprises by awarding the contract to upgrade the roads when the company had no such capacity.
The hearing continues tomorrow.