How close family, associates control Mathira MP’s business empire

Wednesday, July 7th, 2021 23:00 |
Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua with his wife Dorcas who is a co-director in some of the companies. Photo/PD/File

On February 19, 2015, a company identified as Upperdeck Agencies was paid Sh9.44 million by the Nyeri County government.

The following day, the amount was transferred to Wamunyoro Investments Limited (WIL), leaving a balance of Sh5 only.

An investigation by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) would later reveal that WIL was owned by Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua and his wife Dorcas Wanjiku Rigathi, with a share each.

Investigations further revealed that Upperdeck Agencies was owned by Gerard Mbatha and Moses Opundo and that it had been dormant for a long time and was used to siphon funds from the county government and other institutions.

“Since the account has been dormant with a balance of Sh5, it indicates the account was opened solely to receive funds from Nyeri County,” reads the investigations report seen by People Daily.

The report reveals a complex web of financial transactions involving the MP’s family including his wife, children, nephews, nieces and close associates, among them politicians and a banker.

The wife is a co-director in some of the companies, and was a direct beneficiary of the money, according to the report. 

The couple owns Crystal Kenya Ltd, Technical Supplies and Services Limited, Pioneer Medical Kenya Ltd, Karandi Farm, Heartland Supplies, Wamunyoro Investments, Delta Merchants, and Biovet (K) Ltd, among other companies.

Some of the close associates the MP used was an employee of the Mathira CDF committee, Sammy Kipkorir, who was the sole signatory of Upperdeck Agencies and would make cash withdrawals from his Rafiki DTM account.

Favourite banker 

The role played by Gachagua’s favourite banker, Ann Nduta Ruo, a senior staff member at the Rafiki DTM, has also been exposed.

The account opening documents for Upperdeck Agencies at the bank were complete, with one of the forms lacking details including photos. It was, however, indicated “Anne Ruo to provide photos”.

Ms Ruo, the operations manager at the bank, deposited Sh1.84 million into the accounts of Skytop Agencies, Encartar Diagnostics Ltd and Rapid Medical Supplies, all companies associated with the MP.

At one point, she deposited Sh10,000 and withdrew Sh500,000 from Rafiki account operated by Gachagua.

The director of Rapid Medical Supplies Ltd, one David Nguru, for example, told detectives that Gachagua gave him a condition that they had to open an account in a bank of his choice and also put a person of his choice as a mandatory signatory to safeguard his interests. He then introduced him to Ms Ruo. 

Another key beneficiary of the extensive network was the Mathira CDF manager William Mwangi Wahome.

One of the companies that was allegedly awarded a tender by the Nyeri County government wired the money to a company owned by the manager and the MP.

In her statement to police, Skytop director Juliane Jahenda Makaa said she did not have the equipment to undertake the projects and hired them from Machine Centre Ltd.

“My contact person at Machine Centre is William Wahome, who is also a director for the same. I came to know Wahome through Rigathi Gachagua in 2014,” Makaa says. 

Wahome, a holder of German passport, is the signatory of the company’s bank accounts. He is also the board chairman of Tana Water Works Development Agency. 

In some cases, funds received in Wahome’s personal account at Family Bank were transferred to Machine Centre Ltd.

On January 8, 2018, for example, Wahome signed for the company as a director to source a Sh8.7 million LPO financing loan from Family Bank towards a contract at Karatina University.

Makaa was also awarded a tender by Mathira CDF, National Irrigation Board and Vihiga County government, among others.

The report indicates that Machine Centre Ltd received a total of Sh314 million from the Ministry of Water for the Sagana River Restoration Project. 

Francis Thati Jonah, another close associate of the MP, and one of the directors of Petlico Agencies Ltd, was another beneficiary of Gachagua’s empire. He is the sole signatory of the account.

Gachagua introduced Petlico to Equity Bank and they later shared office space at Coffee Plaza on Haile Sellassie Avenue, Nairobi.

On August 4, 2017, Thati made a withdrawal of Sh20 million from Equity purportedly for campaigns and payment of agents.

Interestingly, a similar amount had been received into the accounts of Karandi Farm Ltd the previous day. 

Fake supplies 

This, detectives believe, points to attempts to conceal sources of funds. Politicians have not been left out of the report.

Four companies associated with Gachagua paid at least four politicians about Sh9 million. Laikipia Senator John Kinyua received Sh1.93 million from Wamunyoro Investments and Asoma Enterprises.

Meru Senator Mithika Linturi was, on the other hand, paid Sh1.34 million by Encartar Diagnostics Ltd while former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri got Sh5.8 million by Machine Centre Ltd.

In most of these transactions, the bank statements had minimal or no payments whatsoever to would be suppliers yet they received large payments, a possible indication that there were no supplies made or works done. The report also captures some payments to a lawyer who worked closely with the MP.

He was paid a total of Sh15.35 million by Gachagua (Sh10 million) and companies associated with him including Petlico Agencies (Sh3 million), Skytop Agencies (Sh1.85 million), and Karandi Farm (Sh500,000). The payments were said to be legal fees for land purchases.

The MP used Alexander Nthiwa, one of his accountants, to supply linen to the Nyeri County government through Blueline Suppliers.

In one of the tenders, the company was paid Sh9, 011, 465 out of which Sh5 million was immediately transferred to Gachagua’s Wamunyoro Investment Ltd.

Other family members captured in the report include the MP’s sons Kevin Gachagua Rigathi and Ikuni Rigathi; James Periani Gachagua who owns Marge Enterprises Ltd; and his nephew Kenneth Gachagua Nderitu (son of former Nyeri Governor Nderitu Gachagua).

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