, NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 29 – Former Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) Managing Director David Kimosop and 8 others were on Monday charged with corruption in the Sh65 billion Kimwarer and Arror multi-purpose dams’ scandal.
The suspects were paraded before Anti-Corruption Court Chief magistrate Douglas Ogoti, where they denied several counts ranging from abuse of office, engaging in unplanned projects, receiving bribes among other economic crimes.
The first group of ten, included former National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich, his Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge, who also denied the charges and were freed on bond terms ranging from Sh750,000 to Sh50 million.
The court had earlier warned that it will issue warrants of arrest if the suspects failed to surrender to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations for processing.
So far, some 18 individuals have been charged in court while nine others are yet to surrender to the DCI as earlier directed by court, in what has prompted the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji to issue warrants of arrest against them, “because they are fugitives running away from justice.”
During the Monday court proceedings, Special Prosecutor Taib Ali Taib was outrightly opposed to any application seeking more time.
He specifically took offence with an application of Paolo Porcelli, a director with the Italian firm CMC di Ravenna which he said came at the 11th hour.
“As far as we are concerned, Porcelli is nothing more from a fugitive from justice. And we see this repeatedly demonstrated by foreigners, who feel themselves are above the law, and who consider themselves undignified in their appearance before our court. I take personal offence, as an officer of this court, to having a foreign subject refuse to appear before this honourable court,” Taib submitted in reference to an application by a lawyer.
He added that, “Porcelli and two others had failed, refused and neglected to present themselves before the DCI.
The DPP has specifically instructed us that we do anything possible to ensure this case proceeds without any delay, but when it comes to 11th hour applications such as this , we shall not concede. Our position, your honour, and what we urge you to find is that Porcelli is a fugitive from justice. You should without hesitation, issue warrant for his arrest and production before this court.”
The prosecutor argued that “no Kenyan can behave this before an Italian court and get away with such behavior. But they believe, they can come to our country, rip off our people, conducti themselves against the law and refuse to appear before this court. And you know why your honour, they believe nothing will come out of it. They can break the law and get away with it; contemptuously. Don’t allow them to that.”
But his defense lawyer accused the prosecutor of making remarks bordering on racism, while pleading with the court to consider his client’s application.
The DPP is prosecuting 28 suspects who include CS Rotich, PS Thugge and officials of Italian firm CMC di Ravenna that was contracted to construct the dams, and which was paid billions but has not commenced work four years later.
According to a multi-agency probe led by Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti, the firm has already received an advance payment of Sh19 billon.
The government first spent Sh12 billion to secure funding for the construction of the two dams, with the sum having been paid out to meet set conditions before the actual funding.
“Like any other standard loan facility signed by the government, there are several conditions to be met before funds are available to the borrower and the contractor to commence work,” he said in a press statement published in local dailies at the height of the police investigations in March.
The Sh12 billion was part of the condition’s precedent outlined in a financing agreement approved by the Attorney General before the National Treasury signed it on April 18, 2017, he explained at the time.
The amount entailed an arrangement fee of Sh545.9 million, a Sh359.5 million commitment fee, a Sh3.5 million agency fee and a Sh11.1 billion insurance premium paid to an Italian contractor.
“The investigations established that government officials flouted all procurement rules and abused their oath of office to ensure the scheme went through,” Haji said.
The DPP said the officials had breached public debt regulations.
The court is expected to issue a ruling on DPP’s application for warrant of arrests and also on bail applications for the 9 suspects who appeared in court on Monday.