The finance minister of Kenya, Henry Rotich, has been arrested alongside other top officials over allegations of embezzlement related to the construction of two dams.
They were charged with conspiring to defraud and financial misconduct, came off a police investigation into the misuse of funds in a dam project overseen by the Italian construction company CMC Di Ravenna.
Though Mr Rotich denied any wrongdoing in a large newspaper advert in March, Director of public prosecutions Noordin Haji ordered his arrest and that of more than 20 other people accused of being involved in the contract, including other top officials and the directors of CMC de Ravenna.
“They broke the law on public finance management under the guise of carrying out legitimate commercial transactions, colossal amounts were unjustifiably and illegally paid out through a well choreographed scheme by government officers in collusion with private individuals and institutions,” Haji told a news conference.
The two dams were budgeted to cost 46 billion shillings (446 million dollars), he said, but the treasury borrowed far more.
“The national treasury negotiated a commercial facility increasing the amount to approximately 63 billion shillings – which is 17 billion more than necessary or required, payable on a timely basis without regard to a performance or works,” Noordin Haji said.
It was reported that Rotich’s arrest confirms the growing distance between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.