Businessman arrested at JKIA over contaminated sugar

He was escorted to Kamukunji Police Station where he was detained as police prepared to present him in court on Monday.

The Mombasa-based businessman is expected to be charged with diversion of condemned sugar that had been earmarked for conversion into industrial ethanol.

The National Standards Council (NSC) had recommended that the contaminated sugar imported by Galgamesh Enterprises Ltd be converted into ethanol.

The sugar had traces of mercury, according to investigations.

Correspondences seen by The Standard show that the council decided that the sugar be converted into industrial ethanol.

The resolution was made at NSC's headquarters during a full boardroom meeting on May 4, last year.

It was decided during the meeting that the cost of supervision by Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) be met by Galgamesh Enterprises Ltd.

President William Ruto last week suspended 27 State officials, including Kebs managing director, after it emerged that contaminated sugar was in circulation.

The sugar was to be used to make industrial ethanol and Kebs officers were to have unfettered access to Galgamesh Enterprises Ltd go-downs.

"That you submit a duly signed and legally binding contract between your organisation and the distilling company clearly outlining the sugar shall be used for the manufacture of ethanol for industrial use and not for human consumption," read a letter by NSC to the standards regulator.

"That the process of conversion will be captured through visual technology of CCTV that will be monitored on a 24-hr basis without failure," added the letter.

On their part Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) officers were to provide security during transportation and during processing.

The letter also directed Galgamesh Enterprises Ltd to indemnify Kebs from the activity by filling and signing the indemnity form upon being notified that it was to meet all the supervision costs.

A seven-member committee was constituted to supervise the release of the consignment in compliance with the requirements set NSC. For ease of operations, the committee was split into two groups - one based in Mombasa and the other in Nairobi.

Committee members were to establish or verify the consignment quantity and submitted records. It was also mandated to supervise each container released from the storage location and delivery at the distillery besides keeping clear inventory.

It was the committee's mandate to take samples for analysis and retention for three months upon preparing the reports that were to be submitted to Kebs on a regular basis.

"The Mombasa team will undertake their mandate in Mombasa, seal the containers and dispatch for the Nairobi team to receive in Machakos at the distillery and supervise the emptying of the container contents for the intended alternative use," stated a memo.

The consignment of sugar was directed to Thika Vine Park Limited before it was traced by detectives to a distributor at 4th street in Eastleigh Section Three.

It was imported in 2018 from Zimbabwe.

Head of Public Service Felix Koskei on Wednesday announced the suspension of the 27 public officers.

He said the president had been briefed on the irregular release of the condemned sugar.

[Reporting by Hudson Unguku, Peterson Githaiga and Kamore Maina]