Deputy President William Ruto’s personal assistant Farouk Kibet received Sh1.5 million from Josephine Kabura Irungu, the woman named as a key suspect in the looting of the National Youth Service, introducing a new twist in the scandal that has gripped the nation’s attention since it was exposed last year.
The fresh documents filed by Mr Kibet in a powerful parliamentary committee appear to contradict earlier statements that he received money from Mr Ben Gethi, a businessman who has also been charged in connection with the theft at NYS that led to the resignation of Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru and triggered multiple investigations.
Mr Kibet has told the Public Accounts Committee in a written submission that he had asked his acquaintance, Mr Gethi, for a soft loan of Sh2 million in January 2015 to assist a patient going for treatment in India.
But the submission seen by the Nation and the attached sequence of deposits in his account at Family Bank raises interesting questions and for the first time documents what appears to be a link between Mr Gethi, Ms Kabura and Mr Kibet.
The deputy president’s aide, however, insisted in the filed documents he did not know Ms Kabura and had only been in contact with Mr Gethi.
A bank statement he attached to his submission shows that on January 17, Ms Kabura deposited Sh500,000 in Mr Kibet’s account.
Almost two months later, on March 20, Ms Kabura deposited another Sh1 million in Mr Kibet’s account. The deposits were made via Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS).
Interestingly, even as he claimed to have been in need of Sh2 million to assist the unnamed patient, Mr Kibet had Sh6.9 million in his account. At the time of the second deposit, he had Sh12.19 million in the account.
“I knew Ben Gethi in the course of general interactions in business in Nairobi,” said Mr Kibet.
“I don’t do any other business other than (being) the PA (personal assistant to Mr Ruto) and a farmer,” Mr Kibet said in a separate statement made to the police and attached to his submission to PAC.
Mr Kibet said he only got to know from a police officer that the money put in his account was from Ms Kabura, who he describes as “a person I did not know nor did I ask for any assistance”. He had been summoned and recorded a statement on the matter with the police in which he said he made the request for the soft loan when he met Mr Gethi in Nairobi.
Mr Kibet said he did not immediately realise that the first Sh500,000 had been deposited and only came to know about it when he went to withdraw some money.
“I thought that Ben Gethi had deposited to my account because he was the one I had requested money from,” he said, distancing himself from Ms Kabura whose name appears as the depositor.
When the Sh1 million was deposited about two months later, said Mr Kibet, he thought the request to Mr Gethi had been honoured. “I did not know whether he is the one who sent her to deposit that amount,” he said, adding that it was only when he went to withdraw some Sh110,000 did he realise that there was a new deposit in his account.
“I have never requested for my bank statement to study it,” he told invetigators on November 12 last year at Mazingira House, the headquarters of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.
“Later I called Ben Gethi and thanked him for the money I had received,” Mr Kibet told the police. Mr Kibet told investigators that he refunded Mr Gethi the money in cash in June 2015. But in the statement to PAC he said that he refunded it in June 2016, something that could require clarification.
Known to close friends as Taigut, Mr Kibet has been a long-time ally of Mr Ruto. He was nominated as a councillor in 2007 in the then Wareng County Council and is known to have a strong network in business and political circles.
Although it had been reported that Mr Kibet received money believed to have been part of what was stolen from NYS, it was Ms Waiguru, the former powerful Cabinet Secretary, who gave PAC a diagram showing the frequency of calls between alleged major players in the scam.
In it, Mr Kibet was aclaimed to have communicated with Mr Gethi 262 times.
A bank statement for Out of the Box Solutions Ltd, which did business with the Devolution ministry but was paid out of NYS accounts, drawing it into the scam, was also revealed to have paid Sh15 million to a law firm in which Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen is a partner.
The deputy president recently criticised Ms Waiguru for dragging in others, including his allies, into the scandal instead of taking responsibility.
Mr Murkomen is yet to make his submission but has publicly denied involvement in the scandal and offered to appear before his parliamentary colleagues. The revelation of information pertaining to Mr Murkomen and Mr Kibet prompted the committee to consider inviting the two to appear before them. But with pressure from outside the team piling, they agreed to have them make written submissions.
“We’ll assess that and based on our assessment, we’ll decide whether to call them,” said PAC chairman Nicolas Gumbo when the decision was made.
That decision has, however, not gone down well with some in the committee, with Suba MP and ODM chairman John Mbadi writing to Mr Gumbo this past week questioning the decision.
“There is no justification for leaving out Senator Murkomen, who seems to know a lot, and Farouk Kibet, who evidence before the committee indicates not only received money from individuals under investigation but also had a lot of contacts with the individuals in question,” said Mr Mbadi in his letter. It is understood that some PAC members were furious because Mr Mbadi’s letter had been leaked to the press and attempted to have him summoned to the committee’s Thursday morning meeting, which he missed.
Mr Mbadi had expressed concern that PAC risked losing its respect and dignity and its report on the matter could lack credibility if it is seen to be shielding some witness from the public glare of interrogation.
“For the committee to come out as neutral, objective and fair in the whole saga, everybody who is adversely mentioned (should) get similar and equal treatment including being asked to appear before the committee without exceptions,” said Mr Mbadi.
He said the “popular interest” in the matter requires that those adversely mentioned appear before PAC.