How Kenya Medical Supplies Authority staff lost Sh7m to con men

Friday, October 2nd, 2020 11:00 |
Dr’ Godwins Agutu. PD/File

Zadock Angira and Anthony Mwangi

A month ago, detectives from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) flagged a suspicious withdrawal of Sh7 million from a local bank by a senior manager at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa).

The money was meant to silence five men who claimed to be officers from EACC who were investigating a multi-billion shilling scandal at the authority.

The men had approached the Kemsa official at a joint in a city suburb, with a promise to clear him of any wrongdoing.

Desperate and eager to have the matter solved, the official agreed to cooperate.

It would later be revealed that the men were actually serial fraudsters led by notorious con man ‘Dr’ Godwins Agutu, who has been caught up in many incidents where he hoodwinks people by presenting himself as a government official.

Agutu together with the four men, all clad in expensive designer suits, met the Kemsa official at around 2pm for a meeting whose venue was suggested by the parastatal executive. 

The Kemsa official, according to sources, was excited to meet the “EACC detectives” who had been tormenting him for days with questions over procurement queries.

Agutu, who introduced himself as a Director at EACC, produced a document, which he told the official was a report of his investigations but was quick to assure him that he had been cleared of any wrongdoing.

“What remains is for the Chief Executive Officer to append his signature after you have gone through the document to your satisfaction,” Agutu is said to have told the official. 

Tax evasion

Excited by the turn of events, the Kemsa official was ready to return favour for the good gesture. That is  when the Sh7 million figure was floated to have the file closed.

Official did not raise any objections and asked for some time to withdraw the cash from the bank, as Agutu had insisted on taking only cash.

However, two days later, the Kemsa official was summoned by EACC to explain the Sh7 million cash withdrawal and it was only then that he realised his goose had been cooked and that “detective” Agutu had washed him clean.

The con man, who is referred to in the underworld as ‘daktari’, has a gentle demeanour and speaks with a soft voice.

He is always sharply dressed and heads an organisation that supposedly deals with investigations and prevention of corruption and economic crimes, and whose mission statement is “To be the leading integrity and governance institution globally”.

To most people, Agutu is a patriot fighting corruption and educating the public on its dangers.

But looks can be deceiving; his flawless public façade masks a fraudulent and calculating mind.

He has forged documents and fake staff identity cards indicating he works for different government agencies.

He has been arrested and incarcerated many times in the past and has extorted millions of shillings from unsuspecting victims. It is not clear how he gets his way out of police cells. 

Today, Agutu and two other suspects are expected in a city court following their arrest on Wednesday.

The three were arrested after they abducted a businessman while impersonating anti-graft and Kenya Revenue Authority officials.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) boss George Kinoti said the suspects had abducted the director of Hi-Tech Enterprises and demanded a bribe of Sh2 million. They had claimed they were investigating a case of tax evasion.

The suspects – Agutu, Alex Mutua Mutuku and Ken Gichovi Kimathi - were using two Toyota Prado vehicles registration GKB 070B and KCY 280Q, and had on September 26 stormed Hi-Tech offices and left with a laptop.

Ironically, Agutu was recently in the news alleging that face masks donated by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma had been stolen from the airport and sold in Tanzania. The government however, vehemently denied the claims.

On Tuesday, the men went back to Hi-Tech offices and demanded a Sh2 million bribe.

“When the victim could not raise the money, they forced him into the GKB vehicle and drove off to Lutheran Plaza on Nyerere road,” the DCI boss said.

Agutu is also a director of an NGO, Network Action Against Corruption (NAAC), whose offices are located on the first floor of Lutheran Plaza.

“The victim was forced to contact his family to raise the amount, but only managed to get  Sh500,000.

The suspects escorted him to his house in Westlands and took the cash,” Kinoti added. 

Detectives launched investigations and later arrested the three in the Lutheran Plaza offices.

“Detectives established that the registration number plate, GKB 070B, belongs to a Land Rover Discovery vehicle attached to the Judiciary,” the DCI revealed.

Detectives said Agutu was colluding with suspects thought to be KRA officers identified as Houdouvia Njoroge, Harrison Ochar and Brian Kimemia.

Another probe

They were arraigned in court on Wednesday and detectives sought orders to hold them in custody for five days, but were granted one day to complete investigations. They are expected in court today.

“Those at large are being pursued with charges of abduction and demanding money with menaces,” the DCI said.

Another probe is to be initiated to establish if indeed Hi-Tech Enterprises were involved in tax evasion.

Ironically, Agutu has been pushing for quick resolution of graft cases and in July, he made a media appearance and urged the EACC to investigate corruption allegations at the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).

He asked the anti-graft agency to look into four bank accounts and establish why suppliers were being asked to pay double or through cartels.

“KPA needs the intervention of President Uhuru Kenyatta to streamline the operations and the immediate arrest of the cartels,” he said. 

Agutu has in the past projected the image of a person of integrity keen to fight corruption in the country. 

In February last year, Agutu tweeted: “Chief of corruption and serial thieves have never been arrested, police being used and forced to arrest poor youths who are jobless, Industrial Area Prison is flooded with poor people.”

Agutu would later claim that his NGO had information about how funds were stolen from Kemsa.

He said that fraud at the agency started when cartels tendered to supply face masks allegedly acquired at Sh1,800 and sold to Kemsa at Sh4,000.

On September 27, 2017, he was arrested in a suspected fraud case when he was found in possession of several job cards belonging to different government agencies.

Officers from the KRA and detectives from the DCI found him in possession of the National Police Service staff card indicating he was a Senior Supritendant (sic) of Police and that of KRA indicating he was an Assistant Commissioner in Domestic Tax Survailance (sic).

Agutu also had a job card indicating he was an employee of the Pharmacy and Poisons Boards under the Pharmavigilance and Survailance (sic).

Apart from the glaring spelling mistakes, one of Agutu’s card indicated that he was attached to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), a name that had been changed to the DCI seven years earlier.

It is not clear how the matter was concluded but when asked later, Agutu said: “This was an issue that was brought out to the public in 2017.

The matter was in court and the case was thrown out for lack of evidence.” 

Though disputed, Agutu claims to have graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine degree from the University of Sydney Village, Australia, and a Bachelors of Science (Economics) from the same institution.

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