Inside Politics

Ruto bets on ex-CS Rotich as advisor amid economic slump

Friday, February 9th, 2024 05:20 | By
Ruto bets on ex-CS Rotich as advisor amid economic slump
Former Treasury CS Henry Rotich makes a point at a past event. PHOTO/Print

Barely two months after former Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich was acquitted in the Sh63 billion Arror and Kimwarer dams scandal, President William Ruto has bestowed upon him the role of Senior Advisor on Fiscal Affairs and Budget Policy.

 Rotich, who was suspended in July 2019 alongside his then Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge over the dams scandal, will now occupy the same office previously held by the latter since October 2022, before he was appointed governor of the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).

Rotich’s appointment, which was announced by Head of Public Service Felix Koskei yesterday, got the green light after his acquittal alongside eight others by Justice Eunice Nyutu, who ruled that the former CS had no case to answer.

During the trial, the prosecution declined to question 41 witnesses, despite Rotich and others facing charges of unlawfully executing loan agreements for the construction of the famous Arror and Kimwarer dams scandal.

Rotich and Thugge were arrested in 2020, accused of causing taxpayers a loss of Sh21 billion in payments to a bankrupt Italian firm.

Misappropriation of  funds

The lawsuit was born out of an investigation into the misappropriation of funds in two dam projects supervised by the Italian construction firm CMC Di Ravenna. The allegations stemmed from an investigation into misappropriation of funds in dam projects supervised by the Italian construction firm.

Rotich and other officials denied any wrongdoing, despite suspicions of irregular offshore payments totalling Sh11 billion to an Italian insurance firm involved in financing the dams.

Court records say that Rotich facilitated the direct payment of the Sh11 billion to Italy’s SACE Insurance, bypassing the required process of channelling payments through Kenya’s consolidated account.

“SACE collected the Sh11 billion from the four private commercial Italian banks and lenders (of what is falsely alleged to be a Government-to-Government loan) posed as having loaned the GoK the said money but instead of releasing the funds to GoK as required by our Constitution and our law, the applicant as Cabinet Secretary for Finance allowed and assisted SACE to pay themselves. The funds never saw a Kenya government bank account or the Consolidated Account,” a Directorate of Criminal Investigations officer said in court rulings.

Government account

The funds, borrowed from several private Italian banks, were never deposited into any Kenyan government account.

Despite the allegations, Rotich and his co-accused were acquitted due to the prosecution’s failure to present a convincing case. “I think the devil has been ashamed and I believe he will permanently be ashamed for those skimmed this evil work,” Rotich said after the acquittal.

 However, Four human rights organisations have moved to the High court suing the DPP over the acquittal of Rotich and eight others in the Sh63 billion Arror Kimwarer dams graft case.

Transparency International, Kenyan Human rights commission, Katiba Institute and African centre for governance (AFRICOG) through lawyer Ochiel Dudley wants their application filed on December 29,2023 certified urgent and two prosecution counsels Geoffrey Obiri and Oliver Mureithi held liable.

 “The petitioners seek accountability for the “reckless dereliction of duty by prosecution counsel in the Sh63 billion Arror and Kimwarer dams case”, lawyer Ochiel says in court documents.

 He says the organizations have sued to lift the immunity of the prosecution counsel and to hold them personally liable if the accused persons sue for malicious prosecution.

 They argue that  although the public has already lost Sh63 billion, it could lose more if, despite this petition, the accused persons sue and are paid damages for malicious prosecution from the public purse.

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