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DCI on the trail of Sh63b meant for key dam projects

Kinyuru Munuhe @kinyurumunuhe

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) is on the trail of how Sh63 billion meant to construct dams and paid to an Italian firm was wired to Britain before finding its way back to Kenya.   

Once in Kenya, the money was withdrawn and paid to a number of local companies and individuals. It’s the individuals and firms that the DCI has now summoned this morning to shed more light on why they were paid for non-existent projects.

A multi-pronged probe has unearthed 107 local and international companies detectives believe aided the looting of the billions meant for the construction of Arror and Kimwarer multipurpose damns in Kerio Valley.

Pursuing claims

The National Treasury is said to have released 10 per cent of the total cost of the projects, translating to Sh6.3 billion as mobilisation money.

The money that was paid to the Italian firm, CMC di Ravenna, was mysteriously wired to a bank in the United Kingdom, where it was withdrawn and wired back to Kenya before being paid to scores of firms and individuals ostensibly for works on the two dams. 

Another Sh40 billion acquired by CMC di Ravenna as a loan for the projects cannot also be accounted for.

DCI boss George Kinoti said last evening that detectives are also pursuing claims that CMC di Ravenna paid a bribe of an unknown amount from a Sh4.9 billion down payment last year for the design of Arror multi-purpose dam in Elgeyo Marakwet county to senior personalities, including Cabinet secretaries.

Last evening, the Italian firm denied reports that it is broke.

In a statement to newsrooms, CMC di Ravenna said neither itself nor its subsidiaries have been declared bankrupt or insolvent.

“CMC has voluntarily engaged in a composition with creditors procedure to ensure it safeguards the interests of all stakeholders (creditors, investors, clients and co-operative employees),” the statement read.

“CMC di Ravenna continues to be fully committed to completing the dam project ahead of, or within the contracted time frame,” the statement said and attributed the slow work pace to delays in receipt of payments. 

According to the company, as at November 2018 its forward order book amounted to £4.7 billion (Sh609 billion), a process initiated by CMC board to ensure full transparency and financial compliance.

Contracted to complete the dam by 2021, the firm said 30 per cent of the work is already finished in the project that started in April 2017.

Records from Italy indicate that an Italian court declared the firm insolvent last December.

Details have also emerged that the firm has been retained to construct five dams — Itare in Nakuru at a cost of Sh38.5 billion; Radat dam in Marigat in Baringo county at a cost of Sh20 billion; Kithinu dam in Nkubu, Meru county, at a cost of Sh26 billion; Arror dam for Sh38 billion and Kimwarer dam for Sh28 billion.

Today, directors of all the fingered firms (whose names we have) are expected to appear at the DCI to explain why they were paid the millions in what circumstantial evidence points to possible case of money laundering in Italy, London and Nairobi.

Top government officials at the National Treasury and Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) management have been indicted in an intelligence dossier on why money was wired in collusion with private companies.

So telling is the manner in which the cash, some obtained as repayable loan by the Italian company, were wired to different accounts and diverted to other use as indicated by letters of award as sub-contractors, quotations, invoices or other relevant documentation to justify the payments.

The companies which preliminary intelligence report shows benefitted had no contractual obligations to warrant or justify the payments.

Fraudulent dealings

“You are compelled to report to DCI headquarters Kiambu Road at 9am on the 26th February to the Director of Investigation Bureau. Failure to comply with the requisition constitutes an offence liable to prosecution, ” DCI boss George Kinoti ordered. 

The dams were purposed for production of electricity and irrigation to mitigate effects of drought and make addition to the power national grid.

“The under-listed companies and their directors are believed to be connected with or have information which will assist in ongoing investigations into fraudulent construction of both Arror and Kimwarer multipurpose dams valued at Sh63 billion, whose construction was to commence since December 2017 within Elgeyo Marakwet County,” Kinoti said.

He said the companies are expected to furnish detectives with the relevant documents, showing how they won the tenders. Some of the documents they are required to present are invoices, quotations and delivery notes.

According to investigations report, at least Sh40 billion has been embezzled, including another Sh6.3billion mobilisation fund released by the National Treasury.

According to records at KVDA, Arror dam was set to cost Sh38.5 billion while Kimwarer dam in Keiyo South budgeted for Sh28 billion. But a recent aerial inspection revealed nothing has kicked off on the ground despite the allocation being made and almost 75 per cent of the monies released.

The report shows the mobilisation money was released in 2017 by the Treasury to compensate families who would have been affected or moved although no land had been acquired.

It’s suspected the elaborate fraudulent dealings were orchestrated through CMC di Ravena and Itenera both of Italy.

Some were allegedly paid for supply of construction materials, consultancy services, hotel services, transport services, construction and excavation works.

Some ex-commissioners at the National Land Commission (NLC) are suspected to have been   complicit for allegedly claiming to acquire 8,000 acres of land for the construction of two dams.

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