Bank official: Waititu used 'kickbacks' to buy Sh380 million Nairobi hotel

Delta Hotel

Delta Hotel on University Way. The hotel is  owned by former Kiambu governor Ferdinand Waititu. 

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

Former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu used “kickbacks” paid by a county government’s contractor to pay for acquisition of a hotel he bought in Nairobi city central business district, a bank worker told court yesterday.

The banker, Mr Lijondo Kihima, from Equity Bank Ltd also tabled 45 documents indicating the financial transactions and trail of bank transfers between the county government, the road contractor and business entities owned by Mr Waititu.

In his evidence, the prosecution witness further detailed how the contractor, Testimony Enterprises Limited, was paid money by the county government and wired over Sh110 million to Mr Waititu’s company known as Saika Two Estate Developers Limited.

Stating that the transactions happened between 2017 and 2019, the witness said Testimony wired the money in different amounts and in some instances through cheques.

Saika used the proceeds, which the State alleges to be kickbacks, to pay Lake Naivasha Resort Ltd for the acquisition of Bienvenue Delta Hotel -a building situated on University Way in Nairobi’s prime commercial area.

While testifying before Chief Magistrate Thomas Nzioki at a court in Milimani, the banker said the financial documents confirmed the payments by the contractor to Mr Waititu’s company and Lake Naivasha Resort Ltd.

The prosecution witness also presented 11 cheques drawn by Testimony in favour of Saika and Bienvenne Delta Hotel.

He added that on April 4, 2017 Mr Waititu transferred Sh450 million from his bank to Lake Naivasha Resort Ltd.

The documents produced by the prosecution witness include bank statements (of Mr Waititu and the companies), account opening papers and funds transfer documents.

The witness said that on various dates in May 2019, EACC served the bank with five separate warrants and court orders to furnish the investigating officer with the bank statements.

The court heard that Commission was investigating allegations of corruption touching on the bank accounts of Mr Waititu and the companies.

“I am the one who supplied the documents to the investigating officer and certified the account opening documents,” said the witness.

Testimony Enterprises had been awarded a tender to upgrade various gravel roads in Limuru, Gatundu North, Thika, Juja and Ruiru sub-counties for Sh588 million.

The firm’s directors - Charles Chege Mbuthia and Beth Wangechi Mburu - are also accused persons in the graft case that was commenced on July 29, 2019 by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

Mr Waititu is said to have acquired an indirect private interest from payments made to a county government’s contractor identified as Testimony Enterprises Ltd.

He was charged alongside 12 others including his wife Susan Wangari Ndung’u and their trading companies, Saika Two Estate Ltd (for Mr Waititu) and Bienvenne Delta Hotel (for Ms Wangari).

They however denied the economic crimes charges related to conflict of interest and dealing with suspect property.

Prosecutors allege that between October 2018 and January 2019 the couple jointly received money from Testimony Enterprises while aware that it was acquired from Kiambu County by corrupt means.

Two previous witnesses - Dr Justus Bundi, director of supply chain management, and Faith Njeri, county chief finance officer –both testified on the issuing of the tenders.

In awarding the roads tender, the court heard, procurement staff ignored the professional opinion of the head of supply chain.

“The procurement bid documents submitted by Testimony Enterprises were forgeries. Waititu was the governor at the time the tender was awarded and he had an interest in the said tender,” the court heard.

The hearing of the case continues.

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