AFTER Murder Charges, Governor In Fresh Corruption Wahala

© REUTERS/Stringer
Zakariah Okoth Obado, the Governor of Migori county in a file photo

By DAVID MWERE       

MIGORI County Governor Okoth Obado used proxies among them his relatives to siphon Sh2 billion from the coffers of the county government, according to an affidavit filed in court by the anti-corruption watchdog.

Ethics and Anti- Corruption Commission (EACC) has been investigating how Mr Obado allegedly abused his position to steal public funds through companies registered by his relatives.

In a period of three years, these newly registered companies had transacted Sh1, 971,179,180 deals exclusively from the county government, which was glaringly disproportionate to their known legitimate sources of income.

SEVERAL COMPANIES

“The commission received credible information that a few persons well known to be proxies of the governor, registered several companies for the purpose of fraudulent acquisition of public funds through fictitious contracts,” the EACC says.

The latest dossier by the commission is likely to further dent the political career of Mr Obado, who is already in court over the murder of Rongo University student Sharon Otieno.

The commission wants the governor and his cronies charged with the abuse of office and also recover the monies looted and stashed in foreign accounts.

FICTITIOUS CONTRACTS

“The commission through its investigations established that the defendants working with county officials holding positions of influence, connived a fraudulent scheme to embezzle public funds through fictitious procurement contracts.”

According to the commission, seven members of the governor’s family registered 16 companies and secured multimillion tenders from the county government.

The individuals are listed as Mr Jared Oluoch Kwaga, Ms Christine Ochola, Ms Carolyne Ochola, Mr Joram Otieno, Patroba Otieno, Ms Penina Otago and Mr Robert Okeyo.

ACQUIRE PROPERTIES

Curiously, the companies were registered between 2014- 2016 after the establishment of the devolved governments in 2013.

Mr Obado is said to have benefited to the tune of Sh38.9 million from the proceeds of fictitious contracts through monies wired to his children from the companies in various accounts held in Australia and Scotland.

The first six defendants are said to have used monies corruptly obtained from the county to acquire properties worth Sh382.4 million in an attempt to conceal the proceeds of the fictitious contracts.

INTERESTED PARTIES

Through fictitious tenders, they transferred Sh55.2 million to various offshore financial institutions in China and Hong Kong.

“When asked to explain the disproportion between the assets concerned and their known legitimate sources, the commission was not satisfied with explanations given,” states the affidavit.

According to the affidavit, in just four days, after carrying out a search at Mr Kwaga’s residence, he transferred 17 out of the 59 parcels registered in his name to interested parties. The 17 parcels were transferred in a single day- March 19, 2018.

ILL-GOTTEN WEALTH

“This is an indication that the he was in haste to defeat the efforts by the commission to recover the property which were acquired from the illicit wealth obtained from the county.”

The commission therefore wants the court to grant orders to stop further transfer of the ill-gotten wealth and properties.

Whereas 10 and 23 companies were incorporated in 2009 and 2010 respectively, they were not in active trade before 2013. Interestingly, all these companies had no commercial presence before the establishment of the Migori County.

CASH WITHDRAWALS

In addition to the huge cash withdrawals, there were several wire transfers for the benefit of county government officials in kickbacks.

The dossier notes that Mr Kwaga was in control of 16 companies despite their proprietorship being the other natural persons. For instance, he took over the operations of the Joyush Business Ltd, Swyfcon Engineering Ltd and Dolphus Software Ltd accounts as the sole signatory.

CREDIT: Daily Nation

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