20 June 2018

Kenya: MPs Turn Heat on EACC in Fight on Corruption

The top management of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) on Tuesday found itself in awkward position when it was forced to defend its conduct after it had given a detailed account of its investigation on Kenya pipeline Company (KPC).

The commission had appeared before the National Assembly Energy Committee to give updates on its investigations into the alleged fraudulent procurement of hydrant pit valves at KPC, but instead the MPs turned their heat on the commission, accusing it of being part of the problem.

In a clear case of the hunter being the hunted, the MPs, may be out of design or default, totally looked the other way and refused to interrogate the issues the commission had raised regarding the investigations on the procurement but chose to delve in the character of EACC and its alleged role as an impediment to the fight.

"Is EACC as currently constituted able to fight corruption or is it part of the problem? Our worry is that the commission is part of the conspiracy on corruption. It is taking too long to finalise investigations on simple cases," the vice chair of the committee Robert Pukose asked the EACC Chief Executive Halakhe Waqo.

CONSPIRACY

Awendo MP Walter Owino dismissed assertions by the commission that one of the companies under investigation "is a briefcase entity" and described as a waste of time the decision to storm the home of the alleged suspects in search of evidence on the scandal.

As if that is not enough, Kangema MP Muturi Kigano said the commission had proved it was part of the conspiracy in the scandal as it had failed to move to court to file extradition proceedings against those involved as they are members of the commonwealth countries.

In October 2014, KPC sought to acquire the hydrant pit valves complete with isolation valves and two years' operating spares so as to replace the defective ones at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

To hasten the process, KPC proposed that items be obtained from the original equipment manufacturers, M/s Cla-Val Company Ltd which is located in Costa Mesa, USA, through direct procurement.

According to EACC investigations, officials at KPC were in communication with M/s Allied Inspection and Testing Inc to supply the equipment.

The company had in turn initiated communication with Cla-Val to be appointed as an agent of Cla-val without disclosing that there were bid documents prepared in favour of Cla-Val.

THREE TENDERS

However, Mr Waqo told the committee that investigations had revealed that between March 2014 and July 2015, Allied Inspection and Testing Inc purchased from Cla-Val worth Sh72 million only which included three tenders from KPC.

"Effectively, had KPC bought the equipment from Cla-Val as per the justification given for direct payment, it would have obtained them at a total cost of Sh59.4 million as compared to the contract price of Sh660 million. The purported negotiated contract price was 1,110 per cent more than the price of the original equipment manufacturer, Cla-Val," he submitted.

However, the MPs ignored the details of the investigations and dwelt on the question of why it had taken the commission too long to investigate the matter, arguing that this was part of the conspiracy by EACC to subvert the war on corruption.

BRIEFCASE COMPANY

At one point, Mr Pukose asked to know whether the matter has been investigated by the same officers, raising concerns on why the investigators should not be investigated.

Butere MP Tindi Mwale was angered by the commission's description of Aero as a briefcase company arguing that it was not in the purview of the commission to determine the liquidity or otherwise of a company on the basis of its office space.

"You are part of the conspiracy because you are complicating extradition of those involved in this scandal. You must file an ex parte case. You will be heard. Let the complications of the investigations be out of the country," Mr Kigano said.

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