Fresh details have emerged of the Harambee Annex puzzle where former Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa is a key suspect in plotting a Ksh 39 billion arms fake tender deal involving a Poland-based arms dealer, Eco Advanced Technologies LLC.
Echesa was arrested yesterday following a complaint by two gun dealers who claimed he had swindled them Sh11.5 million they had paid as ‘consultancy fees’.
They claimed the former CS had promised to use his relationship with the Deputy President to help them secure the multi-billion shilling security tender to supply the government with military surveillance equipment, guns, and ammunition.
According to an officer at the DCI headquarters, investigations have revealed that the former CS Rashid Echesa was not acting alone in the fraud that reads like a Hollywood script but was being aided by senior officers at the DP’s office and Kenyan Consular in Poland.
It all started at the exclusive Raffles Europejski Hotel in the heart of Warsaw, Poland where Echesa first met representatives from Eco Advanced Technologies LLC. After establishing contact, Echesa, returned to Kenya supposedly to facilitate the tendering process and preparation of the contract documents.
Eco Advanced Technologies LLC invited him again to Poland for a second meeting where two agents were appointed to represent the firm in the deal. This time around, Echesa was accompanied by Nick Ruto, Deputy President William Ruto’s son, and senior staff at Harambee Annex and was hosted at Sofitel Warsaw Victoria Hotel in Warsaw for five days.
However, investigations have revealed that Nick Ruto had traveled to Poland as a Government Official under the invitation of his sister June Ruto who is Kenya’s Chargee D’Affaires – A Chargee D’Affaires (CDA) is a diplomat who heads an embassy in the absence of the ambassador. Such a role is usually created when two countries do not have full diplomatic relations.
A series of trips followed and the company paid the consultancy fee of Sh 11.5 million that was directly wired to Echesa’s Absa Bank Account. It’s is after this payment the representatives of Eco Advanced Technologies arrived in Nairobi and were hosted at Weston Hotel for ten days before the con-game hit the fan. This went awry and the con-game was blown apart, with Mr Echesa arrested and interrogated at the DCI headquarters Thursday on Kiambu Road.
The officials of the Eco Technologies who met ‘military officials’ were given access to the DP’s office; signed the tender documents with a Ministry of Defence ‘honcho’ before they were picked for questioning. They met a military ‘general’ with a swagger stick and who was driven in escorts and top-of-the-range vehicles and that they walked into the DP’s office mingling with staffers and security detail made the deal look real. But in the back of their mind, “something was not right” but they trusted their contact persons.
The company is based both in Poland and the US and its representatives were to supply, install, commission and maintain an integrated communication and security surveillance system on behalf of the Kenya Defence Forces.
One of the company representatives, an Egyptian who gave their account of the story at the DCI on Thursday, said the request for the deal was initiated via an e-mail sent to the firm through the website months ago.
He said they had done due diligence ahead of Thursday’s planned meeting and eventual supply. “I went by myself to the Ministry of Defence offices on Lenana Road and I entered. Three times, I even got receipts from the offices I went into. The receipts even bear the KDF stamps and they are also signed,” he said.
According to the DCI, the tender documents of the said deal were found in the former CS’s car following a search conducted after his arrest around 10am. He said though there were plans to meet the DP, the meeting never took place since, in the last meeting, Mr. Echesa stepped out of the office to answer a call only to come back and say that the DP was in a meeting.
The controversial politician, who was sacked from his Cabinet position by President Kenyatta in March last year, has had several run-ins with the law, this being his second arrest in nine months after his arrest over the killings in Matungu.
He was arrested alongside Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala and Mayoni MCA Libinus Oduor. Their arrest happened after a gang killed more than 30 people in less than four months, in attacks believed to have been financed by local politicians. The CS was later released after two days of interrogation, on claims that no evidence was found linking the former CS to the killings.
In January last year, the politician was accused of human trafficking after eight Pakistani and one Indian belly dancers, who were found at Balle Balle club in Parklands without valid documents, were linked to him. The dancers had been flown into the country through special permits issued to them by the former CS.
They were later deported for engaging in activities outside what had been specified in their entry documents. Those arrested include former CS Rashid Echesa and his three accomplices — Mr. Clifford Okoth, Mr. Kennedy Oyoo Mboya, and Mr. Daniel Otieno Omondi. They will be arraigned tomorrow. The two foreigners will remain in the country to help with investigations.