What Kamau Thugge said on Sh63bn Arror, Kimwarer dams scandals 


Members of the public cross a bridge on River Talal in Keiyo-South Constituency, Elgeyo-Marakwet County where Kimwarer Dam was supposed to be constructed. FILE PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG

Former Treasury Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge, who put his net worth at Sh450 million says he was wrongly charged over the Sh63 billion Arror-Kimwarer dams scandal.

Dr Thugge, the nominee for the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) governor, told Parliament that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) charged him on matters that were completely far away from the Treasury.

“It is true I was wrongly charged on matters that belonged in completely other Ministries and State departments and were very far away from the National Treasury,” Dr Thugge said when he appeared before the National Assembly’s Finance and Planning committee for vetting.

“The DPP Noordin Haji looked at the charges and dropped them and made me a State witness. I believe the matter is still active in court and I will follow the law. Whatever happens in court going forward I shall comply.”

Dr Thugge and former Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich were arrested in 2020 alongside eight other top public officials over the dams’ scandal that saw taxpayers lose Sh21 billion paid out to a bankrupt Italian firm for the projects which never took off.

The government made advance payments of Sh19 billion, including the Sh11 billion in unnecessary debt insurance, which prosecutors said was shared out in accounts belonging to the conspirators and their agents.

The DPP, however, dropped the charges against Dr Thugge in January 2021 after the former PS opted to be a State witness in the Arror-Kimwarer dams scandal case, turning the heat on his former boss Mr Rotich.

The DPP withdrew charges against Dr Thugge, saying the former PS would become a State witness in the case in which they were among people accused of jointly conspiring to defraud the government of $501,829,769 (Sh55.04 billion) by entering into a deal to construct the two dams in Elgeyo-Marakwet County without approval.

They allegedly committed the offence between December 17, 2014 and January 31, 2019.

In an application seeking to quash charges preferred against him, Mr Rotich, had argued that Dr Thugge was the accounting officer of the ministry and should be held accountable for any financial decisions on the dams project.

The former Cabinet Secretary cited a clause in the Public Procurement and Disposal Act which describes the PS of a ministry as the accounting officer.

As the CS, Mr Rotich argued, he did not have the powers to direct the parent ministry or the procuring entity on procurement matters.

Dr Thugge faced integrity questions after Baringo North MP Joseph Makilap demanded to know why he was turned into a State witness.

“At some point, you were charged in court for Arror and Kimwarer dam and at some point, the DPP rescinded the decision and made you a state witness. What did DPP use to reverse the charges for you to be a State witness?” Mr Makilap asked.

He also wanted to know if the former Treasury PS still believed in the viability of the Arror and Kimwarer projects.

“Does the CS deal with issues which the PS doesn’t know? Mr Rotich is still struggling with the court case but you have been cleared,” Benjamin Lang’at the committee vice chairperson asked.

Dr Thugge asked MPs to seek answers from the Mr Haji who was separately vetted for the position of the Director General, National Intelligence Service (NIS).

“I am still a State witness and will follow whatever is required by the court in this case. I think I hesitate to speak on it because it may verge on commenting on a court case,” Dr Thugge said.

“How the decision was made to continue with the prosecution of the Cabinet Secretary and make me a witness, the best person to answer is the DPP. I think he is being vetted and that could be the best question for him to answer.”

Dr Thugge disclosed his resources to be a plot of land in Ridgeways in Nairobi, a plot in Thika Greens, an apartment in Westlands, Nairobi, a house in Mombasa as well as shares and cash equivalents.

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