Murathe: I’m not a Covid billionaire

Friday, April 30th, 2021 00:00 |
Jubilee Party Vice-Chairman David Murathe.

Jubilee Party Vice-Chairman David Murathe yesterday denied ever doing business with the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa).

He also denied being a director or a shareholder of a company implicated in the Covid-19 supply of protective equipment scandal.

Murathe, who appeared before the Public Investment Committee (PIC), said his only involvement with Kilig Limited was that of a guarantor for business it had been awarded by Kemsa.

“In fact, I do not know why I am here. I stood as a guarantor to assure Entec Technologies, a firm which supplied equipment to Kilig, that the money would be paid,” Murathe said.

The former Gatanga MP put on a brave face as he denied ever influencing Kemsa to award a Sh4 billion tender to Kilig Limited.

“This matter has been blown out of context; in fact people out there are all over me thinking I have Sh4 billion.

It is very unfortunate, records must be put straight that I played no role in the alleged scandal,” Murathe told the committee.

Yesterday’s session chaired by Abdulswamad Nassir (Mvita), almost degenerated into a shouting match between members and Embakasi East MP Babu Owino, who accused his colleagues of politicising the matter to tarnish Murathe’s name.

“The information we have is clear that Murathe played no role in the matter.

No tender was given to him or money paid to him. Committees must desist from harassing witnesses for political reasons,” Owino said amid jeers by his colleagues.

Owino accused some of his colleagues of being Tanga tanga sympathisers used to fight murathe. 

“ Murathe is clean in this. No money was paid its tanga tanga people who are t

Politicising it for their own political gains,” Owino claimed. 

However Nassir asked Owino to refrain from making such allegations against his colleagues and threatened to have him thrown out of the committee. 

“ Hon Owino you are a honorable member and you should not use the committee to attack your colleagues without substantiating.

Be warned that you will forced out if you continue “ Nassir told Owino amid demands by members that he be ejected. 

But an adamant Owino maintained that Murathe is clean and should not be subjected to scrutiny by members with vested interests. 

MPs Kasim Rashid (Wajir East), Julius Melly (Tinderet) and TJ Kajwang’ (Ruaraka), asked Nassir, the PIC chair, to throw out Owino for misconduct.

MPs claimed that Murathe had used his connections to have Kilig Limited awarded the huge tender to supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs).

One of the directors of the firm, Chen Chao, a Chinese national, who is also a director of Entec Technology Limited, which was to supply the PPEs, told the committee in a sworn affidavit that he knew Murathe and his co-director Willbroad Gachoka.

Proxy in the deal

“Murathe is a respectable high-standing member of society in Kenya and that in order to further safeguard and guarantee Entec’s receivables under the supply contract and protector investment, I requested Murathe to be a guarantor for this transaction by being a mandatory signatory together with me in the Kilig Limited account in Equity Bank,” Chao says in his sworn affidavit to the committee.

However, Murathe, in his affidavit to the PIC, denied being a director or a shareholder or beneficial owner of Kilig Limited or Entec Technologies.

“Kilig and Entec companies only requested me to be a signatory to Kilig Ltd bank accounts to guarantee that Entec Technologies as the supplier of the PPE kits would be paid upon completion of the procurement process and I obliged,” Murathe told the committee.

Appearing before the committee yesterday, Gachoka said he sold the company since he could not afford to make the supplies.

Asked by Kajwang’ to confirm that he was just a proxy in the whole deal, Gachoka denied the suggestion, maintaining that he had sold his shares since he did not have the capacity to supply the PPEs.

The committee is considering a special audit report on the utilisation of the Covid-19 funds by Kemsa, an issue that has attracted widespread condemnation from Kenyans after it emerged that billions of shillings may have been lost through corrupt procurement deals.

Yesterday, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe announced a new board of directors for Kemsa after the firing of the previous members.

Uhuru appointed Mary Chao Mwadime the new chair of the board replacing Kembi Gitura whose appointment was revoked. 

Sales agreement

Other new board members include Capt (Rtd) Lawrence Wahome, Robert Nyarango, Terry Kiunge Ramadhani and Linton Nyaga Kinyua.

In his affidavit to the PIC, Chao told the committee that at the beginning of June 2020, Gachoka, together with Kilig Limited, which was under the directorship of Ivy Minyow Onyango, approached him on a business opportunity explaining that Kilig Limited had a commitment letter from Kemsa to supply 450,000 PPEs.

Kilig wanted Chao to arrange the supplies from China and provide a supplier’s financing.

“After several rounds of negotiations, Entec Technology Co. Ltd (Entec), where I am a director and Kilig Limited entered into a sales agreement to provide financing and supply the PPEs to Kilig Limited on June 16, 2020,” Chao explained.

The parties’ agreement provided that the two parties would open an Escrow account to receive the payment from Kemsa and transfer the due payment to Entec’s account directly.

However, Equity Bank did not offer Escrow account services, so the parties agreed to instead open an account under Kilig Limited and included Chao as a mandatory signatory.

It was after then that Entec imported an initial batch of 50,000 kits of PPEs, which were well packaged in conformity with Kemsa packaging standards and quality assurance.

Samples worth Sh9 million were delivered to Kemsa’s warehouse on Kilig’s account before the intended final delivery on the dates given in the Commitment Letter.

Chao said that Kemsa wrote to Kilig Limited informing them that the letter of commitment had been cancelled.

He says as a result, his firm is facing huge losses amounting to $2 Million (Sh200 million) being the cost of purchasing the PPEs.

“The PPE kits are still well stored in our warehouse in Mitchell Cotts, Nairobi,” Chao says in the affidavit.

Murathe says the Commitment Letter by Kemsa to Kilig Ltd was cancelled citing limited budget for Covid-19, which had been exhausted “thereby resulting in no delivery, invoicing or payment for me to guarantee because there was no initiation of a procurement process after the cancellation of the letter”.

“I thereafter ceased to be a signatory as herein therefore mentioned effected August 5, 2020, and I am not a signatory to any account henceforth,” Murathe says.

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