Investigations into the multibillion dams scandal took another twist after officials of an Italian firm, Co-operativa Muratoi Cementisti Di Ravenna linked an ally of William Ruto, David Muge, to a Sh2 billion bribe allegedly received when Ruto visited Italy in December last year.
Muge is one of the powerful people surrounding Ruto and attends the DP’s high profile meetings even with heads of state. Muge is Ruto’s financial controller in charge of campaign fundraising and is what Muhoho Kenyatta was to Uhuru Kenyatta’s campaigns, Joshua Kulei was to Daniel Moi or Joe Wanjui was to Mwai Kibaki.
Weekly Citizen could not establish if it is true Muge’s passport has been confiscated and he cannot travel outside as the investigations gain momentum. The Italians have claimed that the money was paid in Italy and then later it landed in Britain.
Detectives are now secretly combing the DP’s bank accounts both locally and outside the country to establish the veracity of the claims made by the Italian firm’s officials in their statements with police. Not spared are accounts operated by DP family members and allies. They want to establish if Ruto and allies operate offshore accounts.
The Italian officials recorded their statements in the company of their lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi who also represents Ruto in the Weston Hotel saga at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.
According to sources, there was a standoff during their interrogation as Abdullahi tried to stop the Italians when they started implicating the DP in the scandal. The lawyer was overheard saying the investigators were forcing and directing the Italians to implicate Ruto. The stand-off took hours as even Ahmednasir at one time threatened to storm out with his clients.
A furious Abdullahi demanded they leave the CID headquarters to report the next day but was overruled and directed they finish the business that had taken them to the CID headquarters at Mazingira House on Kiambu Road.
CMC di Ravenna, an Italian company, was awarded the construction of the Arror and Kimwarer dams at a cost of Sh38.5 billion and Sh28 billion respectively.
But apart from Itare Dam in Kuresoi, Nakuru, where some work was done, the government is said to have paid Sh4.9 billion for two other projects that have yet to begin.
The bribery allegations are related to advance payments worth Sh4.9 billion made to the firm, yet no work had started at Kimwarer and Arror dams.
CMC Di Ravenna is said to have been paid Sh10 billion for Itare Dam, meaning it had pocketed a total of Sh14.9 billion.
Treasury cabinet secretary Henry Rotich is among those who have so far been questioned in relation to the Sh65 billion stalled dam projects.
The firm, which was overseeing three separate projects valued at Sh91 billion, reportedly exited the country leaving hydro-power and drinking water projects in Nakuru and Elgeyo Marakwet counties after filing for bankruptcy in Italy.
The website, www.globalcapital.com published an article, ‘Distressed CMC Ravenna stokes HY’s Italian fears,” in which it reported that the company had chosen to go for debt restructuring under the insolvency laws of Italy, a move which would protect the firm from its creditors.
According to highly placed sources, the Italian officials claim Ruto ally took the money while on a tour of Italy and wired it to a safe haven in New Jersey.
The deputy president toured Italy in December last year where he addressed private sector players and various industry heads in Rome, as he sought to foster public-private partnership to bolster Kenya’s development plan.
He also visited Politecnico di Milano, the largest technical university in Italy, which agreed to support Kenya in finetuning technical education “to be in tandem with industry demands”.
Among those the DP met in Milan included Politecnico don, Rector Ferracciolo Resta.
The Italian officials, according to sources, have revealed, Ruto allies used the visit as a coverup to take the Sh2 billion which was paid through an Italian Bank and a day later wired to New Jersey.
It was after their confessions that DCI director George Kinoti, Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Hajji and Dorcas Oduor led a team to Italy to investigate claims top Kenya government officials had been bribed by the Italian officials.
They also wanted to investigate the claims that part of the loot had been used to acquire helicopters.
At least three cabinet secretaries are under investigations for receiving kickbacks from contractors engaged in state projects.
The stunning revelations were first made during a meeting between contractors, top government officials and bosses of investigative agencies.
Already, Rotich has been quizzed by the DCI over stalled government projects estimated at Sh366 billion.
He has also been questioned over missing Sh40 billion which was part of Sh63 billion that had been earmarked for the stalled Kimwarer and Arror dams projects in the Rift Valley.
Detectives involved in the scam investigations will be interrogating outgoing chairman of the National Land Commission Muhammad Swazuri, Kerio Valley Development Authority managing director David Kimosop to record statements.
The investigators are said to have flown to the project sites trying to unravel circumstances under which about Sh40 billion meant for the construction of the two hydropower dams in Elgeyo Marakwet was embezzled.
An investigations report indicates that the Sh40 billion includes Sh6.3 billion mobilisation funds released by the National Treasury.
Records at KVDA show that Arror dam was set to cost Sh38.5 billion while Kimwarer dam in Keiyo South was budgeted for Sh28 billion.
During the aerial inspection by detectives, it emerged that no project was being undertaken on the ground despite the allocation being made and with almost 75pc of the monies released.
It has emerged that the mobilisation cash meant to compensate families affected by the projects was released in 2017 by Rotich although no land had been acquired. Insiders say that part of the said money may have secretly been diverted to 2017 campaigns.
Of great concern is why at one time Kenya Forest Service was approached to allocate them land to construct the dam.
The suspected elaborate fraudulent dealings were orchestrated through CMC di Ravena and Itenera also of Italy.
“The money was paid in Italy but withdrawn in London, United Kingdom,” another source revealed. Rotich is one of the cabinet secretaries under detectives’ watch over alleged graft alongside his Tourism and Wildlife and Agriculture counterparts Najib Balala and Mwangi Kiunjuri respectively.
The project was to be carried out by KVDA, CMC di Ravena and Itenera of Italy. It was also set to generate 60 MW of power.
Ruto’s daughter June Chepchirchir has been holding a senior rank of the second counselor in the Kenyan embassy in Rome, Italy.