• PIC summons Murathe, want details of finance module in agreements by the three players in the multi-billion shillings tender.
Jubilee vice-chairman David Murathe has said he was a bank guarantor for a firm implicated in the Sh7.8 billion Kemsa scandal.
In an affidavit submitted to the Public Investments Committee, the politician said he guaranteed Kilig Ltd. Murathe had previously denied association with the firm.
He denies being a director, shareholder or beneficial owner of Kilig in the affidavit.
Kilig was awarded a Sh4 billion tender to supply 450,000 personal protective equipment to Kemsa.
The firm was awarded the lucrative contract two months after registration. It was not pre-qualified to tender by the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency.
Murathe says in the affidavit he was requested by Kilig – then under the directorship of Wilbroad Gachoka and a Chinese national Zhu Jinping – to guarantee payments to a Chinese firm trading as ENTEC Ltd.
Entec was the supplier of the PPE kits and Murathe was to guarantee that the company would be paid upon Kemsa effecting payments to Kilig.
PIC members led by chairman and Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir said it can be concluded that Murathe was engaged by the firm to influence the award and the payments.
Entec director Chen Chao submitted that he got into the deal having known that Murathe "is a respectable high-standing member of society in Kenya".
“I requested Murathe to be a guarantor for this transaction by being a mandatory signatory together with me in the Kilig account at Equity Bank,” Chao submitted.
“Entec imported an initial batch of 50,000 PPE kits…and submitted samples to Kemsa on Kilig account before the intended final delivery to Kemsa on the dates given in the commitment letter.”
MPs Tom Kajwang’ (Ruaraka), Julius Melly (Tinderet), Rashid Kassim (Wajir East), and Joshua Kandie (Baringo Central) said the revelations put Murathe on the spot in the matter.
Kajwang’ said: “It seems Murathe was brought to influence the process. His role was to make sure that this thing was paid.”
“We need him here in person because Kenyans want to see this big fish who can influence payments of this magnitude.
“We are dealing with issues to do with conspiracies…it may well be that someone is not a principal offender but is a conspirator or abetted the crime.”
EACC submitted its investigation report to the Director of Public Prosecutions in November last year recommending criminal prosecution of several individuals. DPP Nordin Haji has yet to make public his course of action.
In his defence, Murathe said he was aware that Kilig engaged Entec which had the kits for the supply in order to fulfil the tender requirements.
“Kilig and Entec only requested me to be a signatory to Kilig’s bank account to guarantee that Entec would be paid on completion of the procurement process and I obliged,” the affidavit reads in part.
Murathe said he ceased to be a signatory on August 5, 2020, adding that Kemsa’s cancellation of the commitment letter to Kilig Ltd meant he had nothing left to guarantee.
“I am aware the commitment letter to Kilig Ltd was cancelled thereby resulting in no delivery, invoicing nor payment for me to guarantee.”
At the initial stages, Murathe said he was not involved - in any way, in the multi-billion shillings tender awarded to the then two-month-old firm.
“Gachoka is my friend and business partner. I have known him since childhood. I partner with him on a lot of issues but I have not partnered with him on this one (Kemsa tender),” he said.
In his affidavit, he says Wilbroad, Jinping, and Chao are known to him…and that he was aware Gatei and Jinping were assigned a commitment letter by Kemsa.
He said his involvement followed after the two Kilig directors failed to secure financing for the purchase of the 450,000 PPE.
Nassir said the committee will write to the signatories to appear in person next week and answer the queries arising from their written submissions.
Rashid said: “The Chinese man did not know Kenya/Kemsa but hired the connection of a man who happens to be a close friend of the Executive.”
“His failure to appear here is the highest level of arrogance. Kenyans have been looking for the big fish, but today, we are able to see the drama, conniving, and the influences that have been going on in handling of Covid-19 money,” the Wajir East MP said.
“At least we have a clue of who happened to be an influence in the tenders. We must make sure he comes here and we interrogate them,” Melly said.
Gatei was a director when the commitment letters were issued. Jinping resigned a few days after Kemsa awarded Kilig the tender.
Kilig is among nine companies whose directors EACC has recommended their prosecution.
At the height of the scandal, Deputy President William Ruto said the suspects would have long been charged had they carried the tag "Ruto allies."
"The perpetrators of this heist are lucky they do not carry the tag "Ruto allies", otherwise they would have taken political responsibility, stepped aside, written statements, companies investigated, individuals arrested and hauled to court," Ruto said in August last year.
(edited by o. owino)