Obado’s proxies received Sh2.5bn in tender scams

Migori Governor Okoth Obado at a Milimani court where he was charged with the murder of Rongo University student Sharon Otieno, Monday, September 24, 2018. /COLLINS KWEYU
Migori Governor Okoth Obado at a Milimani court where he was charged with the murder of Rongo University student Sharon Otieno, Monday, September 24, 2018. /COLLINS KWEYU

The Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission is pursuing a trail of transactions involving an intricate web of suspected proxy companies through which beleaguered Migori governor Okoth Obado is believed to have siphoned billions of county funds to local and offshore accounts.

According to EACC documents filed in court, Obado and his associates registered about 30 companies soon after he became governor through which they have pocketed Sh2.5 billion in “fictitious” contracts.

The firms would be paid by the county for the “high value contracts” after which they would wire the money to Obado's accomplices, especially one Jared Peter Odoyo Oluoch Kwaga.

Kwaga, investigations reveal, also made huge international transfers to, among others, Obado's children in Australia, Hong Kong and China, as the Star reported exclusively on Saturday.

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According to the documents, Kwaga’s companies have been paid Sh1.6 billion since 2013.

"These funds have been used to to acquire and construct properties worth over Sh1 billion registered in the governor's and Kwaga's names. We have traced these properties," EACC said in court papers.

EACC which has been tracking the dealings long before Sharon’s murder saga, discretely obtained court order for a six-months’ freeze of six bank accounts and preservation of 37 parcels of land on December 1, 2017.

The preservation order was again extended on June 21, 2018, for a further four months.
Of these properties mostly situated in Migori county, 22 are registered in Kwaga's name.

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"Communication link analysis indicates that the governor is in constant communication with Jared Kwaga," EACC said.

Sources told the Star that Kwaga lives large in Migori and was at one time being guarded by six police officers.

Another of the alleged Obado accomplices,

Ernest Omondi Owino, who also has a chain of firms has been paid a cool Sh722.8 million.

Others named as the governor’s associates who have allegedly benefited from fraudulent deals include Joram Opala Otieno, Patroba Ochanda Otieno, Beatrice Akinyi Ogutu and Kennedy Odhiambo Akello.

Kwaga, Opala and Ochanda are blood brothers while Akinyi is Kwaga's wife and a close associate of Obado's spouse, Hellen Adhiambo Odie.

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There was also a firm, Kajulu Business, registered in the name of Kwaga's mother, Penina Auma.

"A small group of persons, well known to be proxies of Mr Okoth Obado, the governor Migori county, have registered a large number of companies and firms for the sole purpose of fraudulent acquisition of public funds through unmerited award of high value contracts, some fictitious by way of circumvention of procurement procedures," EACC documents filed in court state.

The anti-graft detectives analyzed particulars of the suspected firms from the registrar of companies and established that the entities are indeed associated with only a few individuals.

For instance, Owino is director of Mbigo Enterprises Ltd and Janto Construction Company, both of whose accounts have been frozen.

Joram Opala is a director of Deltrack ICT Services and Seltrack Consultants while Ochanda is director of Joyush Business.

EACC has also analyzed the accounts to show the close association of the contractors.

In May 2015 for instance, Deltrack ICT Services was paid Sh17.71 million by Migori county government.

But three days later, the entire cash was debited to Kwaga's accounts.

A month later, Obado's government paid another Sh7.2 million to Deltrack ICT Services at Co-operative Bank and after a few weeks Sh3 million was wired to Owino and Opala — each receiving Sh1.5 million.

In a clear indication that the supposed independent contractors are known to each other, Joyush Business, owned by Ochanda, received over Sh8.2 million in two tranches from the Migori county government on May 15.

However, five days later, the entire amount was debited to Kwaga's account.

On December 30, 2015, Seltrack Consultants received Sh7.5 million from the county coffers and the entire amount was offloaded the following day to Kwaga's accounts.

Owino and his firms also made payments to Kwaga and received huge amounts from the same man of up to Sh9 million in a single transaction.

But it is the probe on Kwaga's accounts that has shocked detectives.

On November 25, 2015, Kwaga transferred Sh8.8 million to Achola Akoth and a further Sh1.9 million to the same person on January 26, 2016.

On the same day, another Sh819,280 was transferred to Okoth Scarlet Susan.

EACC has confirmed that Scarlet is Obado's daughter and suspects that Achola Akoth is also one of his children.

EACC says it may apply for mutual legal assistance as provided under Kenyan laws following discoveries of international money transfers to his children and others in Australia, Hong Kong and China.

EACC has frozen the accounts of Janto Construction Limited (Sh4,000,317), Marowa Stores (Sh1,711,134) and Mbigo Enterprises (Sh2,067,058).

Also frozen are the accounts of Hellen Obado at Equity Bank, Awendo branch, which has Sh784,451 and an account identified as Kuku Ni Pesa at Equity Bank, Migori, which has Sh700,660.

Besides the frozen account, the EACC also obtained preservation orders over 37 parcels of land, mostly situated within Migori town, and suspected to be proceeds of graft.

Of these, 22 parcels belong to Kwaga, four to Owino, six to Opala and three to Akinyi.