20 March 2017

Kenya: William Oduol Denies Graft Claims in Sh36m Payout From Edward Ouko Office

Siaya businessman and gubernatorial aspirant William Oduol has denied claims that the Sh36 million paid to a British company he headed were kickbacks meant for Auditor-General Edward Ouko.

Mr Oduol told the Nation that OSI Kenya's payment of Sh36 million to Westcon Africa in 2013 was for the Oracle software called Audit Vault, which was procured by the Office of the Auditor-General.

EACC

Westcon Africa is an Information Technology distribution company and by practice does not directly interact with the end users of the products they sold, he added.

"There is no way I would have engaged with the Auditor-General's office," said Mr Oduol.

Mr Oduol said he has since explained the same to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, that has been investigating the case.

It was EACC's deputy chief executive, Michael Mubea, who first named Mr Oduol as he testified to the Finance, Trade and Planning Committee.

"Nobody ever reached out to me and my name was being mentioned as someone who received money from the Office of the Auditor-General or OSI Kenya. I am a gubernatorial candidate for Siaya and something like this can be very damaging so I went to the EACC on Friday to explain," said Mr Oduol.

$200 MILLION

Mr Oduol said he did not even know about the transaction at the time as he was managing work in 50 countries across Africa.

In a company with a turnover of $200 million (Sh20 billion), he said, a transaction of Sh36 million would be handled by an account manager, someone far below the position of CEO.

Westcon Africa is a subsidiary of Westcon Global, a $6-billion company based out of New York in the United States.

Mr Oduol said he does not know Mr Ouko and that he comes from Alego while Mr Ouko is from Ugunja Constituency.

Other Kenyan directors of the company were Hassan Popat and Hanif Popat, both of whom are indicated to have resigned from the company.

PETITION

Mr Oduol's name first came up in the petition for the removal of Auditor-General Edward Ouko submitted by Emmanuel Mwagambo Mwagonah, an advocate.

Mr Mwagonah, however, referred to a Mr Ochieng Oduol, who he linked to Westcon Africa, which received $361,300 (Sh36.1 million), and said acted on behalf of the Auditor-General.

He said the link between the Mr Oduol and Mr Ouko was proof that the Auditor-General benefited from awarding the contract to supply software to OSI Kenya " and he therefore allowed personal interests to conflict his official duties as an Auditor-General and accounting officer."

SITTINGS

Mr Ouko vehemently denied the allegation.

"I do not know any Mr Ochieng Oduol neither do I have a relative who goes by those names. I can categorically state that he has not benefitted from award of contract to OSI Kenya as is alleged or at all," he said at a press briefing last Thursday.

Before the Finance, Trade and Planning Committee decided to suspend its consideration of the matter last Tuesday, it was set to meet a Mr James Ochieng Oduol.

The individual named in the EACC documents submitted is clearly William Odhiambo Oduol.

An online database of British companies, companieshouse.gov.uk, shows that he was appointed a director on September 14 2010 and resigned on December 16, 2015.

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