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September 23, 2018

Ghost projects and state approvals: Muthaura testifies in Anglo Leasing case

Former Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura attends a news conference in Nairobi, March 13, 2013. /REUTERS
Former Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura attends a news conference in Nairobi, March 13, 2013. /REUTERS

Former Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura appeared in court as a witness on Tuesday to set the record straight on contracts in the Anglo Leasing scam.

Muthaura testified in a case whose suspects include former finance Minister the late David Mwiraria, three former PSs - Joseph Magari, Dave Mwangi and David Onyonka - and businessmen Deepak, Rashmi and Chemanlal Kamani.

They have been charged with conspiracy to defraud the government of 59,688,250 Euros (Sh7.4 billion), through a suppliers financing agreement, for the computerisation of security, law and order systems.

Muthaura informed Milimani senior principal magistrate Martha Mutuku that the government suspended 18 police security projects after discovering they were all 'ghosts'.

In a testimony directed by senior state counsel Evah Kanyuira, he said the government later ordered an audit as part of investigations.

Muthaura cited E-cops which he said had not taken off when the government realised it was a ghost project.

Monies which had been deposited were refunded, he said, adding the government did not lose any funds.

Related: Court allows Anglo-leasing witnesses in the UK to give evidence via video link

STATE APPROVALS

Muthaura, who is also the former PS of Provincial Administration, said the Anglo Leasing contract was approved by the minister and then-Attorney General Amos Wako, and money set aside for the projects released from Treasury.

He also noted that funding for the 18 projects was done through a Cabinet paper that authorised procurement of priority security projects. These were the forensic laboratory, vehicles and housing projects

Muthaura said the paper also permitted the procurement of other essential security and supplies in the same manner.

He added that the E-Cops contract was executed with the sanctioning of Cabinet policy guidelines.

The witness further informed the court that under the Government Contact Act, it is the PS who is mandated with approving government contacts by appending his or her signature.

But he added: "I came to learn about the E-Cops project during an audit on security projects. I am not aware of how the contract was executed and who the key players were."

Regarding tendering, he said: "l confirm that security projects do not require open tendering as it is guarded procurement."

Muthaura noted that at the time of procurement, the government had been facing serious financial problems and that they were looking into borrowing from sources outside the country.

He also noted anti-corruption officers were informed that procurement procedures were not adequately complied with since the prices of some police security equipment were hiked.

The E-Cops contract was awarded to foreign company Infotalent Limited which is also on trial.

Infotalent and the Kamanis alone are charged with fraudulent acquisition of 3,500,266 Euros on April 21 2004 .

The company and the businessmen are also charged with acquiring 1,786,898 Euros paid by the government without delivery of financial services.

Mwiraria, Magari, Mwangi and Onyonka are charged with abuse of office and engaging in a project without following procedures.

Former AG Githu Muigai and Solicitor General Muthoni Kimani are expected to testify in the case.

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