VP, two ministers to be quizzed over Anglo leasing scandal

Mr Awori

Vice-President Moody Awori and two key Cabinet ministers are among people likely to face a new round of questioning over the Anglo Leasing scandal.

The ministers are former Justice head Kiraitu Murungi, now holding the Energy docket, and Finance chief David Mwiraria. In addition former Internal Security minister Chris Murungaru is expected to be quizzed. 

Mr Awori

President Kibaki is reported to have given graft czar Aaron Ringera the green light to question them after studying a report on the scandal by the former ethics Permanent Secretary, Mr John Githongo.

The Kenya Anti Corruption Commission chief presented the 36-page report from Mr Githongo to the President on Monday, and sought his permission to question key members of his Government said to have been mentioned in the document.

The Anglo Leasing scandals centred on contracts totalling Sh6.7 billion to supply tamper-proof passports and forensic science labs. More than Sh460 million was paid out in commission to a non-existent company and for no work done. When the scandal was exposed in Parliament, money was hurriedly returned to the Government by unidentified account holders overseas.

Mr Githongo resigned as PS for governance and ethics on February 7, last year, while on an official trip to Europe with Mr Ringera.

He has been staying in Britain. His report, dated November 22, 2005, was sent to President Kibaki and Mr Ringera in December.

It's not known whether the President received his copy or had seen the report before Mr Ringera took it to him.

Mr Ringera saw the President on Monday and was recalled to State House the next day and given permission to investigate the claims made in the report.

Mr Mwiraria

Officials close to Mr Ringera said Mr Awori, ministers Kiraitu Murungi and David Mwiraria, former minister Chris Murungaru, and a top aide of President Kibaki who operates from State House were among those likely to be asked to help shed light on the names of the principal architects of the Sh6.7 billion Anglo Leasing Finance affair.

Others likely to be called on by KACC officials is local businessman Mr Deepak Kamani, who is named in Parliament in April 2004 as being linked to the scandal. The two have previously been interviewed by the KACC but were not taken to court.

The KACC may want to interview Mr Awori because the Immigration Department – which was at the heart of the contract to supply a terrorist-proof passport system for Sh2.7 billion – was part of his docket.

The passport scandal was first exposed in Parliament on April 2, 2004.

It involved a Sh800 million project in the ministry of Home Affairs for tamper-proof passports under the Moi administration. The project was revised when Narc took over and it was then expanded and costed at Sh2.7 billion.

According to the Public Accounts Committee and the Auditor General, payments were approved and made without Parliamentary approval. 

The second project – for building forensic science laboratories for the Criminal Investigations Department at a cost of Sh4 billion – fell under the Office of the President where Dr Murungaru was minister in charge of Internal Security. 

Mr Murungi

The laboratory project was to see the building and equipping of forensic science labs at Karura, Nairobi.

That contract too was awarded by the Moi government and a commitment fee of Sh900 million was paid. 

Although no work had been done when Narc took over, the Office of the President revived the project and the Treasury paid a further Sh241 million and had set aside many millions more in the Budget to be paid to the fictitious firm.

Mr Mwiraria, the Finance Minister, is likely to be questioned because he approved the contracts and was in charge of the Treasury when a commitment fee was paid for the two contracts to accounts in foreign banks.

While still working in State House as the ethics adviser to President Kibaki, Mr Githongo announced that a report into the Anglo Leasing affair had been completed and that prosecutions would follow within a month.

But Mr Murungi, the then Justice minister, then announced that Anglo Leasing was "the scandal that never was" because Sh461 million paid in commitment fees for work not done had actually been returned. 

Mr Murungi has since been moved to the Energy ministry. It is believed KACC investigators might want to talk to him to find out why little progress was made after the first round of questioning about the scandal.

Mr Ringera

On Monday, Dr Murungaru said he welcomed a new probe into Anglo Leasing, saying the truth would finally come out.

He denied he was linked to the scandals and said he was ready to present himself to KACC officials to clear his name.

His comments came after it emerged Mr Ringera had ordered him to account for his wealth and that of his immediate family members and business associates.

Following a public outcry after the scandals were exposed, President Kibaki sacked the then Treasury PS Mr David Magari, former Home Affairs PS Mr Sylvester Mwaliko and several senior officers in the Treasury and the Attorney-General's chambers.

All the officials were later taken to court but their cases are yet to be concluded.

However, the names of the principal architects of the scandal have remained a mystery.

Those who negotiated the deals or those who were paid a commitment fee of Sh900 million by the Treasury have never been publicly named.

KACC detectives were yesterday studying the report. 

The Githongo report gives an account of the evidence of corruption he uncovered when he was in charge of ethics and governance.

In February last year, former British High Commissioner Edward Clay sparked off a row with Cabinet ministers over a claim that there was massive looting of public funds. 

Sir Edward's attack on sleaze was backed by a dossier of 20 allegedly corrupt public procurement deals, which the envoy said needed "full and transparent" consideration. 

In November, former Cabinet minister Prof Anyang' Nyong'o called for a Judicial Commission of Inquiry along the lines of the Goldenberg Commission to look into Anglo Leasing. 

The former Planning and National Development minister, who revived the debate during the referendum campaigns, said a commission was the only way to proceed if the Government was serious about unearthing the truth.