Ex-CS Echesa quizzed over Sh40 billion fake military tender -by MARY WAMBUI
- It started with Kenyan contacts reaching out to the Poland-based company for supply of equipment worth Sh400 billion. A deal too good to pass by.
- The officials started correspondence with their local contacts.
- They met a military ‘general’ with a swagger stick and who was driven in escorts and top-of-the-range vehicles.
- That they walked into the DP’s office mingling with staffers and security detail made the deal look real.
The alleged scam reads like a Hollywood script. Sh40 billion is the tender. Sh11.5 million is the initial consultancy fee and, after the deal is struck, a further Sh50 million was to be paid.
Former Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa, the broker, and Eco Advanced Technologies LLC, the supplier of military surveillance equipment. The Office of the Deputy President and restaurants in Nairobi the venue of the deal.
This went awry and the con-game was blown apart, with Mr Echesa arrested and interrogated at the DCI headquarters Thursday on Kiambu Road.
An e-mail to express interest started off what could turn into a series of trips between Nairobi and Poland that ended up at the DCI interrogation room. The officials of the Eco Technologies who met ‘military officials’ were given access to the DP’s office; signed the tender documents with a Ministry of Defence ‘honcho’ before they were picked for questioning.
They also visited the ministry for receipts of the deal. It started with Kenyan contacts reaching out to the Poland-based company for supply of equipment worth Sh40 billion. A deal too good to pass by.
The officials started correspondence with their local contacts. That they met a military ‘general’ with a swagger stick and who was driven in escorts and top-of-the-range vehicles and that they walked into the DP’s office mingling with staffers and security detail made the deal look real. But in the back of their mind “something was not right” but they trusted their contact persons.
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The company is based both in Poland and the US and it’s representatives were to supply, install, commission and maintain an integrated communication and security surveillance system on behalf of the Kenya Defence Forces.
The CS is said to have lured the arms dealer into the deal that included drones after presenting himself as a friend of Deputy President William Ruto. He is said to have already pocketed US$115,000 (Sh11.5 million) in down payment.
One of the company representatives, an Egyptian who gave their account of the story at the DCI on Thursday, said the request for the deal was initiated via an e-mail sent to the firm through the website months ago.
He said they had done due diligence ahead of Thursday’s planned meeting and eventual supply. “I went by myself to the Ministry of Defence offices on Lenana Road and I entered. Three times, I even got receipts from the offices I went into. The receipts even bear the KDF stamps and they are also signed,” he said.
According to the DCI, the tender documents of the said deal were found in the former CS’s car following a search conducted after his arrest around 10am.
The former CS is reported to have even travelled to Poland to meet with the dealer to convince him of the deal as part of their negotiations. While in Poland, the former CS sampled the equipment at the dealer’s company.
He said though there were plans to meet the DP, the meeting never took place since in the last meeting, Mr Echesa stepped out of the office to answer a call only to come back and say that the DP was in a meeting.
The controversial politician, who was sacked from his Cabinet position by President Kenyatta in March last year, has had several run-ins with the law, this being his second arrest in nine months after his arrest over the killings in Matungu.
He was arrested alongside Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala and Mayoni MCA Libinus Oduor. Their arrest happened after a gang killed more than 30 people in less than four months, in attacks believed to have been financed by local politicians.
The CS was later released after two days of interrogation, on claims that no evidence was found linking the former CS to the killings.
In January last year, the politician was accused of human trafficking after eight Pakistani and one Indian belly dancers, who were found at Balle Balle club in Parklands without valid documents, were linked to him.
The dancers had been flown into the country through special permits issued to them by the former CS.
They were later deported for engaging in activities outside what had been specified in their entry documents.
Those arrested include former CS Rashid Echesa and his three accomplices — Mr Clifford Okoth, Mr Kennedy Oyoo Mboya and Mr Daniel Otieno Omondi. They shall be arraigned tomorrow.
The two foreigners will remain in the country to help with investigations.