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November 20, 2018

Ben Gethi: Waiguru fixed me over NYS

NYS servicemen build a road in the Nairobi Kibera's slum on December 6, 2014.Photo/File
NYS servicemen build a road in the Nairobi Kibera's slum on December 6, 2014.Photo/File

A key suspect in the Sh791 million NYS theft scandal Ben Gethi told MPs yesterday that former CS Anne Waiguru doctored documents to implicate him.

Businessman Gethi, 32, appeared before Parliament's Public Accounts Committee where he said documents prepared by former NYS deputy director Adan Harake were changed to conceal the truth.

The businessman said the same documents were used by the Banking Fraud Investigations Unit, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions and the Assets Recovery Agency to charge him with the loss of Sh791 million and to attach his property.

Gethi said DPP Keriako Tobiko and Banking Fraud boss Joseph Mugwanja wrongly charged him when his two companies are not mentioned anywhere in the losses.

He also said Waiguru interfered with investigations and gave biased statements to sway decisions on fraud and theft at the NYS.

"Waiguru worked with Mugwaja to fabricate documents in NYS and I have evidence to prove it. Most of the claims seem to be office politics at play amongst individuals. There is absolutely no link to corrupt intentions adduced against me whatsoever," Gethi told the committee chaired by Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo.

Assets worth Sh585 million acquired with NYS funds and linked to Gethi have been traced and recovery started. They include prime plots in upmarket Muthaiga in Nairobi, a Range Rover and cash in various bank accounts. The assets were purchased through proxies and lawyers and some registered under law firms.

Ben Gethi and his lawyer Joseph Wangara at the Milimani law courts on May 4 / PHILIP KAMAKYA

Read: Gethi admits inflating prices of NYS fuel during PAC probe

The Assets Recovery Agency filed an application in the Milimani law courts in November last year to recover the assets.

On December 11, the Kenya Gazette recorded preservation orders under the Proceeds of Crime and Money Laundering Act to prohibit transfer of the properties and the car.

Most of the assets traced and frozen belong, directly or indirectly, to Gethi.

The agency has also named his mother Charity Wangui as a respondent along with his sister Jedidah Wangari Wangui, hairdresser Josephine Kabura Irungu, a driver at Kenya Commercial Bank John Kago Ndungu, Sam Mwadime; and lawyers Patrick Onyango Ogola and Martin Muthomi Gitonga.

Some 22 other people are facing related charges. They include former NYS staff, Devolution PS Peter Mangiti and former NYS boss Nelson Githinji.

The scandal of inflated payments by NYS brought down the former Devolution CS Anne Waiguru who was forced to step down on November 22. She cited doctor's orders for her resignation. Now she is running for Kirinyaga governor.

Gethi's mother and sister have been named as the owners of four plots in Muthaiga and Westlands valued at Sh159 million.

A special audit report released in June revealed Sh1.9 billion was lost in the scandal.

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission CEO Halakhe Waqo last week told Gumbo's committee his team is investigating Sh1.8 billion lost.

"Any serious investigations officer should be able to see right through the ploys of interfering with the investigations," he said.

Gethi's company Horizon Enterprises supplied oil and lubricants, while his firm Lateco Technologies supplied foodstuffs to NYS. The businessman said both companies won two-year tenders competitively in 2014 and are not among companies mentioned in the fraud.

"Horizon has had and continues to have a track record of heavy transactions beyond the timelines in question. To date none of my personal or company accounts have been frozen," he said.

More on this story: How Ben Gethi, 31, Spent Sh585 million NYS cash

He added that Mugwanja was working under pressure to "obtain quick results" from his investigations into the saga.

"Mugwanja's investigation report has been relied on by the DPP to prefer charges on me and also relied on by Muthoni Kimani of the Asset Recovery Agency to link properties owned by my family and label them proceeds of crime," Gethi said.

Gethi dismissed claims by former NYS deputy director general Harakhe that he stopped funds to NYS in the IFMIS system.

"I do not understand how my name was roped into the Sh791 million saga monies that Harakhe confirms to have successfully reversed," he said.

The committee put him to task, however, to explain how he got the contract to supply oil and lubricants, though he is not a fuel dealer and not licensed by the yet he is not a dealer in fuel and was not licensed by the Energy Regulatory Commission to supply the commodities wholesale, as required by law.

Maara MP Kereke Mbiuki also questioned why Horizon Enterprises supplied fuel at an exorbitant price of Sh104 per litre while them market price was Sh78.

"There were claims of exaggerating fuel prices supplied to NYS. Horizon selling fuel at Sh104 per litre was making a profit of Sh20. Why wasn't the contract given to a company like Kenol Kobil?" Mbiuki said.

Despite pressure from MPs, Gethi declined to disclose the total contract amount for his two firms in NYS businesses and refused to name a partner company that supplied fuel to his firm.

"I have received around Sh500 million for the fuel contract and it would be another figure if other payments have been made," he said.

MPs took issue with how huge sums amounting to millions of shillings was regularly deposited in Gethi's bank accounts, then all withdrawn in cash at once. They questioned where sums as large as Sh40 million withdrawn in cash were taken.

Gethi responded that he is used to handling cash and that the money was always "in and out to develop the businesses".

At one point, Gethi faced the committee's wrath for attempting to evade questions. Gumbo threatened to declare him a hostile witness if he tries to avoid their questions when he testifies before them next Monday.

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