David Murathe, the ruling Jubilee Party vice chairperson and a close confidant of President Uhuru Kenyatta, has finally admitted to having had financial association with a company under investigation in the Sh7.8 billion Kemsa suppliers scandal.
Mr Murathe, in an affidavit sent to MPs investigating the multi-billion shilling scam in which taxpayers lost huge sums of money due to irregular award of tenders, admits that he was a signatory of Kilig Limited's account at Equity Bank.
Kilig Limited was awarded a Sh4 billion tender to supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa), a transaction that it then sub-contracted to another company, Entec Technology Limited.
"Kilig Limited and Entec Technology Limited only requested me to be a signatory to Kilig Limited's bank account to guarantee that Entec, as the supplier of PPE kits, would be paid upon Kemsa effecting the anticipated payment on completion of the procurement process and I obliged," says Mr Murathe in the affidavit.
It is the first time that Mr Murathe is admitting that he stood to gain financially from the Kemsa supplies for Covid-19 equipment that attracted national outrage last year and even caught President Kenyatta's attention, who ordered an investigation into the matter by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).
When he appeared before the EACC in September last year, Mr Murathe denied any involvement in what was christened as the Covid millionaires scandal.
He then sought to deflect blame to Deputy President William Ruto, without offering evidence to back his claims.
Blamed DP Ruto
"I know Wilbroad, who is a partner at Kilig, and a Mr Zhu, and I know at some point they were not able to secure financing for the provision of the kits that they had committed. They had a commitment letter from Kemsa, they transferred their shareholding to persons who are known associates of DP Ruto. So I came here to present that evidence today," claimed Mr Murathe then.
The DP swiftly denied involvement in the Kemsa scandal.
"The corruption consultants, brokers and conmen, some bankrupt in 2013, are now billionaires after looting while scapegoating William Samoei Ruto," Dr Ruto tweeted on his official handle at the time.
Members of Parliament now want the Jubilee vice-chairman to appear before them on Thursday next week to explain his role in the scandal.
The National Assembly Public Investment Committee yesterday rejected the affidavit filed by Mr Murathe, insisting that he must appear in person before them to answer to a myriad of questions surrounding his role in the Sh4 billion tender.
Mr Murathe, together with Wilbroad Gatei and Mr Chan Chao, a Chinese national, were expected to appear before the Abdulswamad Nassir-led committee yesterday, but instead they all filed affidavits, each detailing their role in Kilig's Sh4 billion tender.
Looking for big fish
The MPs said Mr Murathe's affidavit admitting that he was a signatory of Kilig's bank account is a clear testimony that he used his proximity to power to influence the issuance of a commitment letter to little-known Kilig Ltd, which was only two months old when Kenya reported its first Covid-19 case.
Wajir East MP Rashid Amin said the committee "has been looking for big fish" behind the Kemsa scandal and now they had found one.
"Mr Murathe used his closeness to the Executive to influence the tender," said Mr Amin, adding: "Mr Murathe must appear before this committee so that we interrogate him. We have been asked about the big fish in this scandal."
Ruaraka MP TJ Kajwang' said that through Mr Murathe's affidavit, it is clear that the politician used his position to influence payment at Kemsa.
"If his role was to ensure that payment is done to Entec, as he has admitted in the affidavit, then it is clear his role was to influence the payment to Kilig. These are the people we want before us. The people who influenced payment at Kemsa," said Mr Kajwang'.
In his affidavit, Mr Murathe said he has never been a shareholder nor benefited from Kilig or Entec Technology Ltd.
Mr Murathe said he ceased being a signatory of Kilig after its commitment letter to supply PPEs worth Sh4 billion was cancelled by Kemsa due to shortage of funds.
"I ceased being a signatory effective August 5, 2020 and I am not a signatory to any account henceforth," he said.
He told the committee that Wilbroad Gatei and Zhu Jimping incorporated Kilig and were also the directors of the company.
Mr Gatei, in his affidavit, admitted incorporating Kilig together with Zhu Jimping on January 22, 2020. He, however, pointed out that in April 2020, they resigned as directors of Kilig and transferred their shares to one Collins Bush Wanjala as a fulfilment of agreements with the company's financing partners.
He said the company experienced financial difficulty in securing funds to supply the Sh4 billion Kemsa tender for PPEs. It is then that Kilig entered into an agreement with a Chinese company, Entec Technology Ltd, to supply the PPEs.
In his affidavit to the committee, Mr Chen Chao, the director of Entec, said that he knows Mr Murathe and even described him as 'respectable high-standing member of society of Kenya.'
"In order to safeguard and guarantee Entec's receivables under the supply contract and protect Entec's investment, I requested David Murathe to be a guarantor for this transaction by being a mandatory signatory with me in the Kilig Ltd account at Equity Bank," Mr Chao says in his affidavit.