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Italian executive on the run in Sh63bn dams scandal as Waititu, wife charged

Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Ndung’u Waititu
Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Ndung’u Waititu (right) with his wife, Susan Wangari Ndung’u, at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi July 29, 2019 where they were charged with six counts over a Sh580 million irregular tender. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO |NMG  waititu wife

A senior executive of an Italian company accused of receiving payments in the Sh63 billion Kimwarer and Arror dams scandal is on the run, a Nairobi court was told on Monday, as Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu and his wife, Susan Wangari, were charged separately with corruption.

Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti issued a warrant for the arrest of Paolo Porcelli, ruling that the reasons advanced by his lawyer, Kevin Anami, as to why he did not show up in court were not sufficient.

Mr Waititu, his wife and eight county staff were charged over an irregular Sh588 million tender award.

The question of whether Mr Waititu will leave office until the graft case is prosecuted dominated the court session soon after the charges were read out to him.

The first time governor who spent the second night in jail pending his bail application is accused of knowingly acquiring an indirect private interest in the contracts awarded to Testimony Enterprises ltd by his county government amounting to Sh25.6 million.

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He allegedly also paid himself Sh18.4 million through his company Saika Two Estate Developers ltd.

Mr Waititu is separately accused together with his wife of dealing with suspect property by paying themselves Sh7.2 million through their other company, Bienvenue Delta Hotel.

Summons

In the Kimwarer and Arror dams case, Mr Anami had told the court that he was yet to receive summons for his Italian client to appear so that he could communicate the same and get instructions.

The DPP, however, through special prosecutor Taib Ali Taib, said the lawyer had undertaken to communicate the summons to Mr Porcelli when the matter was in court last week.

The magistrate entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of the two companies, CMC Di Ravenna Itinera JV, and CMC Di Ravenna Itinera JV Kenya branch, despite objections from Mr Taib.

The companies together with Mr Porcelli are accused of fraudulently receiving $33.6 million between December 7, 2014 and September 7, 2018.

It is alleged that they jointly conspired and acquired the amount from the National Treasury through Barclays Bank.

The companies, together with Mr Porcelli, are further accused of engaging in a scheme to defraud the government of $244.4 million.

The court heard that they entered into a commercial loan agreement, disguised as a government-to-government loan guaranteed by the Italian company, yet it was a concessional loan where the intended concessionaire was to be the borrower and financier and not the Government of Kenya.

Defective

Through Mr Anami, the companies had filed an objection against the charges, saying that the charge sheet was defective.

The lawyer further argued that Mr Porcelli did not personally benefit from the money.

He further said the charge sheet does not give details of his acts or omissions and the offences he is alleged to have personally committed.

But the court dismissed the application and ordered for the plea taking. The companies denied the charges.

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