PROCUREMENT IRREGULARITIES

EACC boss denies senators Sh1bn clinics probe details, prompting heated exchange

Mbarak insisted that disclosure would jeopardise the investigations

In Summary

• Mbarak tells the committee he is disappointed that members were suspecting he was hiding something. 

• Since 2016, EACC has been probing allegations of procurement irregularities at the Health ministry. 

EACC boss Twalib Mbarak.
PROBE WILL BE JEOPARDISED: EACC boss Twalib Mbarak.
Image: FILE

A angry exchange ensued between Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission CEO Twalib Mbarak and senators over investigations into procurement irregularities in the Sh1 billion portable clinics.

Members of the Senate Standing Committee on Health demanded details of the probe but Mbarak declined, saying doing so would jeopardise the investigations.

"The discussion we are having will interfere with the outcome of the investigations. I am not defending anybody, but I have limitations. We cannot go to the nitty-gritty of the investigations,” he told members. 

Senators had requested the list of 10 companies and directors that the Ministry of Health had invited for a restricted tendering for the project. 

The ministry had planned to construct clinics in the informal settlements but the venture was shelved and the portable clinics introduced.

 The EACC has since November 3, 2016, been probing allegations of procurement irregularities at the Health ministry with regard to a tender awarded to Estama Investments Limited for the supply of 100 portable clinics at Sh10 million per unit. 

Mbarak said the commission has obtained documents from the ministry, various banks, Registrar of Companies and recorded statements from 58 persons of interest.

The senators insisted on knowing the other companies invited to tender for the project.

“What is wrong with giving us the detail of the 10 companies?” Wajir Senator Abdullahi Ali asked.

Nominated Senator Mary Seneta told Mbarak not to hold on to the information “by hiding behind legal procedures and processes”. 

Mbarak said he was disappointed that members suspected he was hiding something. 

“If you insist, I will give you what you want, but I can assure you that we will mess up the investigations and we will not make headway,” he said.

Narok Senator Ledama Olekina told the CEO that senators have taken an oath and would not jeopardise investigations.

“In the past we have met with the Directorate of Public Prosecutions on camera and he gave us information we asked for,” he said.

Mbarak promised to hand over the information demanded. 

He noted that the ministry, through restricted tendering, invited 10 firms to bid but only six firms responded.

“On June 29, 2015, the tender was awarded to Estama Investment,” he said, noting that Estama contracted a Chinese company - Guangzhou Moneybox Steel Structure Engineering Co Ltd - to fabricate the containers.

“The Ministry of Health has so far paid Estama Investment Ltd Sh800 million,” Mbarak noted.

He added that EACC investigations focused on the procurement process, payments and confirmation of the supply.

“The commission submitted a Mutual Legal Assistance to China, seeking to establish the actual cost of the equipment’s in order to determine whether the government got value for money,” he said. 

Mbarak noted that in January 2018, EACC filed a civil suit for recovery of about Sh400 million being the difference between the amount paid and the valuation of the portable clinics.

“On the March 9, 2018, the defendants made an application for negotiation through the Alternative Dispute Resolution. The parties have been granted up to  January 18 next year to settle the matter,” Mbarak said.

“The commission is awaiting the response of the MLA request to China so that the criminal investigations file can be concluded and forwarded to the DPP."

Edited by R.Wamochie