THE STAR: Investigations into the alleged procurement scandal at Kemsa could claim high-flying casualties, some too close to power, as anti-graft detectives move to uncover the rot.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission is going flat out to nail suspects of the alleged theft and has summoned top dogs as it races to meet a 21-day deadline given by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Among those set to be grilled by EACC on Friday, the Star has exclusively established,is vocal Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe, a key ally of President Kenyatta.
Also having a date with the anti-graft detectives is the family of Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi and former Karachuonyo MP James Rege.
Preliminary investigations indicate that Murathe is a bank signatory of Kilig Limited, a firm he has publicly disowned on prime time news.
The company — only registered on January 22 and not among the pre-qualified firms at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority — was hand-picked and awarded a lucrative Sh4 billion tender for the supply of 450,000 personal protective equipment at Sh9,000 each.
“The commission is investigating allegations of procurement irregularities in relation to the Covid-19 emergency supplies at Kemsa where Kilig Limited, a company you are a signatory to its bank account, is featured,” EACC CEO Twalib Mbarak said in his letter summoning Murathe.
Mbarak, a former military intelligence officer, has rejuvenated the war on corruption that has targeted the big fish including at least four governors.
“This case [Kemsa] is intense but going on well. There are a lot of issues that we have to scrutinise, from history of the firms, the directors, money flow, among others. There are over 50 companies involved. It is complex and wide,” the EACC boss told the Star on Thursday.
Sources said that Kiraitu’s wife and son have a date with EACC on Monday.
Through their firm, Caperina Enterprises Ltd, the firm was awarded a Sh45 million tender for the supply of surgical masks.
The Star has established that Rege was to be grilled at Integrity Centre on Thursday.
He is a bank signatory to Duke Agencies Ltd, one of the firms that were awarded contracts at Kemsa.
In June, DPP Noordin Haji approved the arrest of Rege and six others over Sh2 million procurement of telemedicine equipment from the Karachuonyo CDF.
Rege has been the chairman of Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco).
Sources said that so far, EACC has grilled over 25 staff at Kemsa, including four top officials who were suspended over the alleged tender mess and 31 companies.
The agency sent packing CEO Jonah Mwangi Manjari, Charles Juma (head of procurement) and Eliud Mureithi (commercial director).
The EACC probe on Murathe is likely to trigger a political storm and excite Deputy President William Ruto’s political base.
Murathe has remained a political nightmare to Ruto within Jubilee, rubbishing his presidential bid while linking him to every mega scandal in government, including the Thwake Dam.
Officially, the directors of Kilig Ltd are William Willbroad Gachoka, brother of outspoken television personality Tony Gachoka, and a Chinese national, Zhu Jinping.
On Tuesday, Murathe admitted that Gachoka is his longtime friend and business partner but denied having worked with him in any Kemsa deal.
“We are consultants. We do a lot of consultancy services. We have consulted for various international companies. We are setting up a lot of businesses in the free and special economic zones and we also consult for construction companies in the country,” he said during an interview on Citizen TV.
He went on: “He (Gachoka) is my friend. He is my partner. I have known him since childhood. We are family friends since childhood. I partner with William on a lot of issues but I have not partnered with him on this one [Kemsa tender].”
The Jubilee vice chairman, however, roped Deputy President William Ruto into the saga, claiming that at the time the tender was being issued there was an attempt to transfer ownership of Kilig Limited to “known associates” of the DP.
“William Gachoka and his partner [Zhu Jinping] had transferred the shareholding of that company to known partners of Deputy President William Ruto and when they could not come through with the financing for the importation of the equipment it reverted to the original partners through the lawyers,” Murathe alleged.
Pushed to substantiate, Murathe retorted: “We have the evidence. We have the transfers. If you want to find out go to KCB and find out who are the account holders of Kilig Limited. You will find out they are known partners of Deputy President William Ruto.”
Ruto has since rubbished Murathe’s claims, terming him a consultant for graft.
“The corruption “consultants”, brokers and conmen, some bankrupt in 2013, are now billionaires after looting while scapegoating William Samoei Ruto. Their overgrown impunity is shamelessly making them steal even from the sick in a pandemic. The end is nigh. Nowhere to hide. No more scapegoating,” Ruto tweeted on WEDNESDAY.
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