Officials ‘blame-free’ over Tokyo land deal

By: PAUL OGEMBA

A policeman who investigated the Tokyo Embassy land deal Tuesday sought to absolve three former government officials accused of corruption, saying they played no role in the purchase of the property.

Mr Kipsang Sambai testified that none of the three accused was involved in the procurement.

He said he did not know who raised the complaints against the officials.

He told a Nairobi court that it was the ministerial tender committee that approved purchase of the property.

“Our investigations did not produce any evidence that the property was procured outside recommendations of the ministerial tender committee,” said Mr Sambai.

Asked whether any of the three accused received bribes, Mr Sambai said investigations did not uncover any evidence to show they were induced.

The property owner in Japan had confirmed he did not pay any bribe to sell the land.

He, however, could not explain how they reached the decision to charge former Foreign Affairs PS Thuita Mwangi, former ambassador to Libya Anthony Muchiri and former Charge d’Affairs in Tokyo Allan Mburu over the Tokyo Embassy deal.

He said he only acted after the file was forwarded to him.

“I acknowledge that the process to identify the property begun way back in 1989 and there were several offers and negotiations.

A STRONG CASE

I also confirmed that the ambassador at that time had made a strong case to warrant purchasing the embassy,” said Mr Sambai.

He was being cross-examined by lawyers representing Mr Mwangi, Mr Muchiri and Mr Mburu in the case in which they are charged with abuse of office in procuring the Sh1.1 billion Kenya Embassy and ambassador’s residence in Tokyo.

Asked whether he investigated claims that the parliamentary committee on foreign relations had tried to extort money from ministry officials over the Tokyo embassy, Mr Sambai said he had not seen the complaint letter produced in court and that they had not investigated it.

He further testified that he did not understand what sections of procurement rules were violated in buying the embassy since the tendering had started even before an agreement was reached to buy the land.

According to Mr Sambai, it was the ambassador who requested that the embassy be purchased and the PS only wrote to the Treasury to request for funds.

“There was an inspection and validation committee who helped in identifying the property and recommended the plot since it provided value for money. The PS only did what he was requested to do in accordance with the law,” he said.