EACC probes Sh1.2b payout to one man

A file photo of EACC headquarters in Nairobi.
A file photo of EACC headquarters in Nairobi.

The Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission has been investigating circumstances under which two companies owned by one businessman was paid Sh1.2 billion by three different ministries over a period of eight months.

EACC says it has uncovered large and unexplained cash transfers from the State departments of Interior, Youth Affairs as well as Planning and Statistics.

Most of the money was paid in 2016/17 Financial Year when the country was gearing up for the last General Election.

Court papers obtained by the Star show that EACC has completed investigations into the suspicious payouts that it wants recovered.

The money was wired into the accounts of Era Two Thousand Enterprises owned by one Evanson Thuo Waweru.

Sometimes money was transferred into the account up to five times on a single day.

It was during the same time that the second National Youth Service heist was also engineered. Public and Youth Affairs Principal Secretary Lillian Omollo, NYS Director General Richard Ndumbai among other top government officials and businessmen have been charged with economic crimes related to the scandals.

According to EACC, Sh1.2 billion was paid out in a record eight months between January 1, 2016, and 31 August 31,2016.

The detectives were puzzled by how, for instance, the Department of Planning and Statistics paid the firm Sh27.4 million in five tranches on June 26, 2016. On the same day, the Interior ministry paid the firm Sh5.5 million.

In four days between June 26 and June 30, the firm was paid a total of Sh241.7 million from the two State Departments of Interior and Planning and Statistics in 32 tranches.

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“The evidence gathered in the preliminary investigations clearly demonstrate a typical case of corrupt dealing between the respondents and officials of the State Departments of Planning and Statistics, Youth Affairs and Interior,” EACC said in papers filed in court.

EACC said that the huge transfers were followed by cheque withdrawals by the suspect and outward remittances to other companies such as Blue Urban Limited.

REGISTERED

Era Two Thousand Enterprises was registered in 1998 as a printing and stationery business.

The Star has established that top officials from the three ministries, especially from procurement and finance, have been grilled by detectives.

By April, about 17 people had been questioned at Integrity Centre.

Their accounts have also been covertly searched as EACC suspects the officials received huge kickbacks.

Among those who were questioned include the heads of Finance and Procurement in the Ministry of Interior.

Also grilled was a Mr Maina, Chief Finance Officer in the ministry of Special Programmes, and Samuel Chimoto, Senior Finance Officer in the State Department of Statistics.

The Star could not establish whether EACC has targeted to net any big fish.

At the time of the suspect transactions, the late Joseph Nkaissery was the Cabinet Secretary for Interior while Karanja Kibicho was the PS.

The Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs was headed by CS Sicily Kariuki.

EACC says it was alarmed by the confession of then Planning and Statistics Principal Secretary Irungu Nyakera that his department had never given any tenders to Era Two Thousand Enterprises.

The anti-graft agency was stunned by the ministry’s response when it sought to be furnished with payment vouchers and tender documents regarding dealings with Era Two Thousand Enterprises.

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“We have exhaustively perused our records and confirm that M/s Era Two Thousand Enterprises has never dealt with the State Department of Planning and Statistics,” Nyakera told EACC on 31 August 2017.

Nyakera was among 12 Principal Secretaries dropped when President Uhuru Kenyatta formed the current Cabinet early this year.

In his defence, Waweru said his firm had indeed supplied goods to the three State departments and EACC was conveniently twisting facts.

The EACC obtained orders to freeze Waweru's two accounts at Barclays Bank, Queensway Branch, with Sh1.2 billion on October 6, 2017. One account was in the name of Era Two Thousand Enterprises and the other named Big Sale Chemicals.

The freezing order was again extended for a further three months on April 6, 2018, to allow EACC to complete its investigations.

“The amount involved here is public money and running to millions...Let the applicant be given time to properly wind up its investigations and conclusion of this matter,” ruled Judge Hedwin Ong'undi on April 18.

On June 20, 2018, EACC and the disputants recorded an agreement by consent allowing the KRA to take Sh60 million from the frozen accounts.

The freeze orders were however lifted on July 9, 2018, as EACC said it had concluded investigations and was ready to forward the file to Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji.

“We have completed our investigations. We shall be forwarding the report to the DPP in accordance with Section 35 of the Economic Crimes Act,” EACC told the court.

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