What you need to know:
- The governor is facing multimillion-shilling graft charges alongside 10 others, including his four children.
- Companies owned by the governor’s close associates were awarded multimillion-shilling tenders by the county government.
Migori Governor Okoth Obado allegedly pocketed Sh2.6 billion from the county government through 23 trading companies linked to his family and business associates during his first term.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) yesterday told a Nairobi court that the governor and his partners siphoned the billions in irregular trade deals that lacked scrutiny.
EACC investigator Robert Cheruiyot Rono said the firms were registered after Mr Obado’s election in 2013.
Interestingly, the Director of Public Prosecutions only charged him with embezzlement of Sh73.4 million in charges related to corruption, money laundering, conflict of interest and unlawful acquisition of public funds.
The governor now faces multimillion-shilling graft charges alongside 10 other people led by his four children and business associate Jared Peter Odoyo Kwaga.
Mr Kwaga’s mother Peninah Auma, his wife Christine Akinyi, sister-in-law Carolyne Anyango and brothers Patroba Ochada and Joram Opala are also in the mix. They are jointly facing 27 counts.
Inspector Rono told anti-corruption chief magistrate Lawrence Mugambi that companies owned by the governor’s close associates were awarded multimillion-shilling tenders by the county government between 2013/14 and 2016/17 financial years. Seven of them are linked to Mr Kwaga.
Alleged financial crimes
They include Atinus Services, which received Sh122.8 million, Joyush Business (Sh64.7 million), Mactebac Contractors (Sh216.3 million) and Deltrack ICT Services (Sh185.6 million).
Others are Misoft Limited (Sh292.5 million), Seletrack Consultants (Sh155.8 million) and Swyfcon Engineering Sh66.7 million.
Mr Rono said the scam was investigated by five detectives “and to move with speed, they zeroed in on the seven companies”.
“They are either owned by him (Kwaga) or his brothers, sisters, mother and sister-in-law. They were registered almost the same year and received significant amounts of money,” he said.
Since the investigations involved alleged financial crimes and analysis of financial documents, the investigators got assistance from Mr Alex Kinyanjui, an expert with the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS).
He generated details and the payment schedule of money made by the county government to the suppliers (Mr Obado’s family and Mr Kwaga).
“A complaint was received by the EACC in August 2017 about misappropriation of funds in Migori. The complaint was forwarded to the commission’s intelligence unit for investigation and action.
“As a team, we sat down and strategised on how to carry out the investigation, bearing in mind that objectivity was crucial,” said Mr Kinyanjui.
The investigators also sought documentary evidence from the county secretary Christopher Odhiambo Rusana, but it was delayed. They wanted to be furnished with original tender awards and documents for all payments made to the 23 companies.
They also wanted tender advertisement notices, list of all bidders, evaluation and opening minutes and the processing attendance list.
They also needed the tender awards notification notices to both successful and unsuccessful bidders, letter of acceptance, contract agreements, inspection certificates and payment vouchers.
The hearing resumes on Monday when the prosecution and the defence will argue on a proposal to amend the charge sheet as well as the introduction of new evidence running to more than 500 pages of documents.
The defence led by lawyer George Kithi has since opposed the DPP’s intention, arguing that it amounts to an unfair trial.