On March 3, Principal Magistrate Kennedy Cheruiyot allowed former Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) boss Daniel Manduku and the Kenya Revenue Authority customs boss Kevin Safari to walk free after a stand-off between detectives and prosecutors on whether to charge the two.
Dr Manduku and Mr Safari were to be charged with violating procurement laws in awarding tenders for storage space to supplement the Inland Container Depot (ICD).
Last year, two companies — Mitchell Cotts and Nairobi ICD — were awarded the tenders. Mitchell Cotts is associated with prominent, powerful families that may have been roped into an ugly criminal trial.
The Nation has established that when the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) officers presented Mr Manduku and Mr Safari in court, they had hoped that they could bypass the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) in having the two charged.
But Mr Cheruiyot asked for a charge sheet approved by the ODPP, and there was none. Prosecutors told the detectives to instead forward the investigation file to their office, which is headed by Mr Noordin Haji. Since then, the buddy-buddy relationship between DCI George Kinoti and Mr Haji has degenerated and at times played out in other court cases, while fuelling tension between officers in their respective offices.
“We had tried to charge them because the law doesn’t stop us from arraigning suspects in court. But the DPP’s office intervened and they were released. The two complete investigation files we had are still with the DPP’s office,” Director of Investigations John Kariuki said in an interview last week.
In March, Mr Haji said there was no bad blood between him and the DCI. The KPA investigations, he added, had some loose ends that needed to be tied before his office could push for a conviction in court. But the DCI’s confirmation that the files are still at Mr Haji’s office indicates the cases could have stalled.
Mr Kariuki holds that prosecution is also a tool of crime prevention, and argues that there have been less procurement law violations following the arrest of several top brass in government institutions.
The investigations boss revealed that detectives are now struggling to arrest perpetrators of scams involving online forex trading, which has seen investors swindled billions of shillings in the last five years.
VIP Portal, a firm that swindled Sh1 billion from Limuru residents in 2014 through an online forex trading scam, has resurfaced and its architect Alfred Wangai could be arrested again.
In 2014, Family Bank froze his accounts after DCI investigations revealed that his firm was a scam. Mr Wangai had agreed to repay the residents to have a series of criminal cases against him dropped.
However, the DCI is investigating him again as several Kitengela and Rongai residents have filed complaints over being swindled through the same platform.
Mr Kariuki said VIP Portal is just one of many others, which the DCI is investigating.
Separately, dozens of Kenya Power employees could be arrested soon over an electricity token racket that has benefited at least 5,000 customers and denied the electricity supplier millions in revenue, Mr Kariuki said.
The investigation is complete and the file will soon be forwarded to Mr Haji, although Mr Kariuki declined to reveal more about the investigations. “The investigations have been ongoing, and are almost complete. We are almost forwarding the file to the DPP for legal advice,” he said.
ONGOING MAJOR INVESTIGATIONS
Kipyegon Kenei: Nearly four months after the DCI George Kinoti said his officers have cracked the murder case, detectives are yet to complete the investigation. While the inquiry is still ongoing, there is no sign of any arrest of suspects anytime soon. Director of Investigations John Kariuki said dozens of witnesses have recorded statements with the DCI, which admits that the case is complicated. Mr Kariuki says detectives are looking at every angle and will question all relevant parties, regardless of their status in society.
Kenya Power bills scandal: The investigation could see one of the largest number of people charged in a single case. The DCI confirmed it’s wrapping up compilation of the investigations report and will send the document to DPP Haji for review “anytime now”. The racket saw rogue KP staffers collude with computer hackers to sell electricity tokens in the black market and for a song.
Kenya Ports Authority: One of the corruption-riddled State corporations that has sucked up billions of taxpayers’ cash has emerged as one of the wedges between Mr Kinoti and Mr Haji. Two investigations are complete, but in March, Mr Kinoti and Mr Haji revealed that there were several other ongoing investigations. The two files are with Mr Haji’s office, and Mr Kariuki said he is not aware of what will happen next after the failed attempt to charge former KPA boss Daniel Manduku.
Football Kenya Federation: President Nick Mwendwa is among dozens of individuals who have recorded statements with the DCI. Detectives are looking into the alleged misappropriation of Sh244 million that the government gave to the FKF towards costs for Harambee Stars’ participation in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations tournament. Mr Mwendwa has also been on the spot for buying an outside broadcasting van sponsored by world governing body, Fifa, but which has never been delivered.
Zakhem Construction: The Lebanese contractor build the Sh44 billion Mombasa-Nairobi oil pipeline after winning a Kenya Pipeline Company tender. But detectives are now investigating claims that the Lebanese firm colluded with KPC officials to delay the project by two years, which led to a late payment penalty of Sh4.4 billion. The Nation has learned that the firm’s founder Ibrahim Zakhem has since returned to Lebanon. The DCI says it will pursue a mutual legal assistance deal with Lebanon and request help from Interpol in the event that Mr Zakhem is found culpable and does not return to Kenya.
Ekeza Sacco/Gakuyo Real Estate: Preacher David Kariuki Ngari, better known to his flock as Gakuyo, founded the two entities. The Sacco promised to help members save and invest through loans, while the real estate firm would make their home ownership dreams come true. But it was a scam, and the man of the cloth got caught after siphoning Sh1.5 billion. With prosecution looming last year, Mr Ngari struck an out-of-court deal with the ODPP to refund investors all their cash to avoid arrest and arraignment. The DCI is monitoring the situation.
VIP Portal: The firm and its owner Alfred Wangai are quickly becoming the poster boy for an online forex trading scams as they face a fourth probe in seven years. The firm gobbled up Sh1 billion largely from farmers looking to get rich quick.
Off-plan homes scams: The DCI has received several complaints involving Banda Homes and Simple Homes, which allegedly siphoned billions from people under the guise of building homes for them. Detectives have recorded statements from suspected Simple Homes mastermind Nuzrat Shariff. Victims statements are still being recorded. Banda Homes is said to have failed to deliver homes after receiving Sh1.5 billion.
This article was originally published by The Daily Nation.