Three Kenyan investigative agencies are looking into a gravy train involving a top manager Agency the Kenya Rural Roads Agency (KeRRA).
Investigations have revealed an intricate ploy to defraud the Kenyan taxpayer millions of shillings through inflated contracting Chinese and local road construction companies that are awarded mouthwatering road construction deals and in exchange provide kickbacks paid in cash or through the construction of high end real estate in various parts of Nairobi.
On Tuesday 22nd June, Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) obtained orders from the high court freezing the assets of the main suspects, Margaret Wanja Muthui, who is the deputy supply chain manager at KeRRA and Esther Wagio Njunge, who works for Safancom PLC as a regional sales manager.
Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) is looking at Preferring charges of abuse of office and money laundering against the two through Lighthouse Trading Company Limited. But sources say, the Investigators should move fast and cast a wider net to get Muthui allies at KeRRA.
Muthui’s moneyed associates are engineers Charles Mugondu from Kirinyaga, Peter Gichohi and Finance Director Dan Manyasi.
Mugondu and Manyasi, using fortunes from KeRRA road projects, have slept with every loose lady at the parastatal.
One Chinese firm, Chinese Overseas Construction and Engineering Company that was involved in the controversial Sh1.2 billion Sigiri Bridge Project in Busia that was collapsed, was known to bribe the said officers.
The Four KeRRA officials were always seen in the company of the Chinese officials whose firms deal with KeRRA.
The most notable was Overseas Construction and Engineering Project Manager for Busia Bridge Jerone Xzue Hua. After the bridge collapsed due to poor workmanship, following claims millions of shillings was used on kickbacks, to make a profit, the Chinese firm decided to cut on costs. Mugondu is the director in charge of supervision and development and has hidden his wealth registered in the name of slayqueens and relatives.
Munyasi has real estate spread in Kakamega, Likuyani, Eldoret, Nairobi and Kajiado.
Engineer Gichohi has apartments I Ruaka along Kiambu road.
Apart from Chinese firms, others said to be compromised ae those allied to Somalis. Others are SS Mehta and Sons Construction Company owned by an Asian Family based in Parklands.
Bayusuf Construction Company undertakes Mombasa road works and is mostly favoured.
Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) is also looking at calculating tax arrears on the user Sh1 billion worth of assets laundered by the two and slapping them with a fine. The investigation has for the first time revealed how proceeds from the lucrative road tenders are laundered through proxies who invest on behalf of corrupt government cartels.
In the Muthui case under investigation and as per court documents filed in the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crime Court under certificate of urgency, the documents paint a picture of the intricate theft of public resources through government tenders.
Margaret Wanja Muthui is a Kenyan national working for the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure. Until her transfer to the ministry of transport in February 2021, she was the deputy director and the acting director procurement at KeRRA earning a monthly gross salary of about Sh400,000.
In October 2019, investigations revealed that Wanja had purchases 11 units of luxurious signature apartments in Kileleshwa at the cost of Sh300 million which she paid for in cash.
The payments were made between July and September 2019. The and large cash Payment was made hurriedly due to the currency demonetization process which Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) was undertaking at the time.
On the 31st of May 2019, the government had effected a major economic change by demonetizing the Old Sh1000 shilling bank note.
The government issued a 122-day notice ahead of the full waithdrawal of its old bank notes out of circulation by October 1, 2019.
Further investigations revealed that Muthui had enrolled the services of her nieces, Njunge as a regional sales manager and Alice Wacuka Njunge to register a company under the name Light House Trading Company Ltd which was used to purchase the houses.
The company had initially been registered by her brother-in-raw Joseph Njunge Mathu and her sister Joyce Wanjiku Njunge who later resigned as directors of the company and passed on its directorship to Alice and Esther
Wanja also enlisted the services of her elder sister Grace Nyambura Ndiritu and her two daughters Mercy Wambui Nyambura and Cynthia Wanjiku Nyambura to register for properties on her behalf. The properties include number C2, C3 arartniident C16 at Signature residence Kileleshwa.
Further investigations revealed that Wanja had used her sister Joyce Njunge Mathu to construct a mixed-use commercial building in Githurai, Ruiru sub-county Kiambu County.
Wanja is involved in high level corruption which involves awarding Chinese road construction companies through favors.
She used her position as deputy director procurement to amass wealth during her tenure.
Muthui has been fighting to remain at KeRRA even after being moved to the Transport ministry by moving to court. Muthui argued in court papers she had for years risen to become the senior procurement officer but was transferred to the office of Performance Management and Coordination under the Presidency.
She blamed her transfer on her questioning of tender overpriced by Sh1 billion.
Muthui questioned her deployment letter on grounds, it did not indicate the range of her duties at the new office yet she had no idea of the function of her purported deployment. In a judgment in February 2019, Justice Hellen Wasilwa halted her transfer to ministry of Transport.
Ms Muthui was back in the news in January when she was transferred again but used the courts to block the transfer.