Kenyan finance minister among 28 arrested after international probe into dams

The finance minister of Kenya has been charged with fraud and corruption connected to the construction of two dams in western Kenya, a top police official said Monday.

Henry Rotich was one of 28 officials arrested and indicted for their alleged roles in awarding contracts and payments to the Italian firm CMC di Ravenna, said director of public prosecutions Noordin Haji.

Also arrested was Kamau Thugge, the permanent secretary to the treasury.

According to prosecutors, the accused did not follow legally required procurement procedures leading to an increase of $165m in the project cost.

Noordin Haji, Kenya’s director of public prosecutions, said: "The national treasury negotiated a commercial facility increasing the amount to approximately $608m, which is $165m  more than necessary."

Mr Haji told the BBC "the contracts that were entered into and the loans that were taken were not in the interests of Kenyans but were serving other interests".

The arrests were made after a nine-month investigation into the dams, carried out with the help of the authorities in Italy, the UK and Dubai.

The two dams, Kimwarer and Arror, are planned for Kenya’s Elgeyo Marakwet county but although more than $200m has already been spent on them, little progress has been made.

This case is the first in which a Kenyan finance minister has been charged while in office. Two others were charged after they had left office.

Mr Rotich and CMC di Ravenna deny wrongdoing.

Image: Elgeyo-Marakwet County (Shadychiri/CC BY-SA 4.0) (Razvan Socol/CC BY-SA 3.0)

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