The Arror and Kimwarer Dam saga continued to deepen after revelations that Kenya received a Kshs,16.2 Billion from an Italian bank, even as the investigations were going on.
The money, for construction of Arror and Kimwarer dams was wired into the National Treasury’s account just days after the Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich was arrested on suspicion of financial misconduct related to the construction of the two dams.
The former Treasury CS was arrested by the Director of Criminal Investigations in July 2019, and charged afresh in May this year over the scandal. Prosecution however dropped charges against former Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge, Susan Koech and the 18 Italians who own the companies which benefited from the tender. The Italians will be charged separately.
The recent developments suggest that the disbursement of the loan funds did not stop despite a red flag being raised over the scandal, creating additional debt for the projects. At the time the CS was arrested, and the scandal; broke out in public, Kenya had received Kshs.3.4 billion. The President cancelled the projects after receiving a report from a technical committee, which he had formed following the discovery of irregularities and improprieties surrounding the two mega infrastructure projects.
In the same financial year, Arror dam received Kshs.11 billion while Kimwarer received an additional Kshs,5.2 billion, totaling, Kshs.74.3 billion (578.2 million Euros) from the Spanish firm, repayable over 14 years beginning May 2021 to 9th November, 2035.
According to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP). Rotich allegedly aided an exorbitant Kshs.11Billion irregular and unnecessary offshore payment to an Italian insurance firm entangled in a suspect loan deal to finance the construction of the dams. He also facilitated direct payment of the amount to the firm contrary to the law, which requires that all payments are processed through the Consolidated account in Kenya. In Court files DPP said the push to bypass wiring the cash to the consolidated fund was engineered to facilitate bribes and kickbacks.
The government also made advance payments of Kshs.19 billion, including the Kshs.11Billion which is suspected to have been paid to the conspirators and their agents.
Rotich is accused of hiding behind government- to- government procurement to single source the privately-owned company and craft an exorbitant Kshs.11Billion insurance cover for the project, which had hardly taken off. Designs had not been drawn, and Kenya Forest Service had declined to provide land. The contractor is also said to have gone bankrupt even after receiving Kshs.7.2 billion in advance being; Kshs,4.3Billion for Arror, and Kshs.3.5Billion for Kimwarer dams. The payment was to a web of associated companies in Kenya, South Africa and Italy.
Rotich’s co-accused are former Kerio Valley Development Authority Managing Director David Kimosop, Chief Economist Kennedy Nyakundi, Director of Resource Mobilisation Jackson Njau Kinyanjui, and Inspector General of State Corporations Titus Muriithi.
Rotich faces 20 counts including abuse of office, conspiracy to defraud, willful failure to comply with procurement laws and engaging in a project without prior planning. He denied the charges.
Prosecution of mega scandals is often a long and complicated as suspects go to great lengths to conceal their tracks. However, the successes witnessed in convictions of such culprits sends a clear signal that there is no escape for those found guilty of corruption, however long it takes.