Shadowy Tycoon at the centre of big scandal in Kenya dies
Shadowy Tycoon at the centre of big scandal in Kenya dies: The death of Chamanlal Kamani has brought to an end the life of one of the most controversial and shadowy individuals whose life was rocked by claims of rank corruption.
Kamani died on Monday in Nairobi without getting an opportunity to give his side of the story on various criminal cases he faced related to corruption in government.
Similarly, his passing on is a blow in the government’s effort to recover billions of taxpayers’ money believed to have been paid to phony companies he operated with his two sons, Deepak and Rashmi.
Kamani and his sons were the main suspects in the infamous Sh55 billion Anglo Leasing infamy, the biggest scandal to rock president Mwai Kibaki era.
In the scandal that almost brought down the government, the companies owned by the Kamanis were paid billions of shillings even though they did not render services or deliver goods paid for.
In some instances, the Kamanis were found to have supplied substandard equipment at highly inflated prices.
It is estimated that the family received Sh18 billion of the money in shady deals involving procurement of several contracts in the Interior ministry.
Anglo Leasing was a series of security-related scandals involving 18 state security contracts in which the government entered finance lease and suppliers’ credit agreements to pay for forensic facilities, security equipment and support services for various defence units.
Thirteen of the eighteen contracts were made under president Daniel arap Moi, the other five after under president Kibaki.
The scandal began when the government awarded Anglo-Leasing and Finance Company Limited (ALFC) a Sh2.7 billion contract to replace passport printing system even though the lowest bid came from a French firm for much less.
By the time of his death, the National Treasury was seeking to recover Sh3.83 billion from the billionaire businessman who, alongside his sons, was under investigations for Anglo Leasing-type contracts.
The National Treasury attempted to recover the money from Kamani in a recommendation to the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission.
A 2011 “secret” letter specified five companies that were paid Sh3.83 billion, which it associated with the Kamanis.
“Except for project Flagstaff which is being resolved differently, in the other five contracts, PwC valuation reports suggest that the government paid the suppliers more than the value for works, goods and services under each of the contracts,” says the letter to the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (now Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission).
“The recommended strategy is to cancel the contracts and recover the amounts owed under a process guided by both KACC and State Law Office.”
The letter was written by then Finance Permanent Secretary Joseph Kinyua, who is now the Head of Public Service.
The Kamanis (from left): Rashmi, Chamanlal andnThe Kamanis (from left): Rashmi, Chamanlal and Deepak at Milimani Law Courts in 2012 where they were charged over the Anglo leasing scandal. PHOTO | PAUL WAWERU | NATION MEDIA GROUP
It was addressed to then Attorney-General Amos Wako and commission boss Patrick Lumumba, requesting that they pursue Kamani and recover the money.
Audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) conducted a valuation that exposed the inflated costs.
The ethics commission further “revealed that all the contracts were overpriced and possibly tainted with corruption”.
Part of the anti-corruption commission’s report shows that detectives concentrated on Unicorn, a company registered in Kenya and owned by the Kamani family.
Further investigations led them to a company called Globetel, since one of its directors, US national Merlyn Kettering, had been contracted by Unicorn.
It is the firm that was supposed to have installed ICT equipment for the Administration Police.
The sleuths also established a link to Silverstone company and Midland Finances registered abroad, since the two shared one of its directors with Globetel.
These companies were also contracted to undertake “security vehicles project,” as well as the police ICT one.
As the probe advanced, a link was established at Sagaar Associates, a British company registered in Liverpool, because one of its directors, a Dave Doyle, also sat at the board of the Midland Finances, while another was Sudha Ruparell Kamani, who is Kamani’s relative.
Sagaar had been awarded the tamper proof passports contract as well as to establish the Criminal Investigations Department (CID, now DCI) forensic laboratory.
The complex network also shows LBA Systems, registered in the UK, was to carry out phase 1 and 2 of the Kenya Prisons security and Telecoms.
Its co-director was identified as Kamani and its subsidiary company was Infortalent, which was supposed to undertake the Kenya Police Law and Order System popularly known as the E-Cop.
By IBRAHIM ORUKO