Migori Governor Okoth Obado’s fraud case has taken a new twist after the prosecution revealed how the County Government of Migori paid Sh2.7 billion to some companies in a suspected corruption syndicate.
An investigator for the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) revealed to the court yesterday how the county government awarded contracts to 22 companies which were owned by Governor Obado’s six family members.
Robert Cheruiyot Rono, a forensic investigator with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, the first witness, told the court that they analysed all contracts and payment schedules and discovered that majority of the companies are owned by the family members who are charged alongside Obado with conspiracy to defraud Sh505 million from the county coffers.
“We will provide documentation to show how each of the accused is related to the companies,” said Rono.
According to Rono, EACC received intelligence in August 2017 about an alleged embezzlement of public funds from Migori County which was being perpetrated by businessmen said to be the governor’s proxies.
Rono told trial magistrate Lawrence Mugambi that they formed a team that analysed the evidence and came up with a schedule of what to investigate.
He said the team sought to find out how the contracts were awarded to the same companies owned by the same people and how they utilised the funds after being paid by the county.
From their analysis, Rono said they discovered payment schedules to the various companies owned by the family members who were paid millions of shillings, some of which the prosecution claims were paid back to Obado as kickbacks through his children.
Rono had told the court that the companies were registered shortly after Obado was elected the governor in 2013. They were awarded the multi-million-shilling tenders by the county government.
He presented to the court an analysis of the IFMIS payment system which showed how the 23 companies were paid the Sh2.7 billion within four years of Obado’s first term in office. His evidence showed that Mbingo enterprises received the largest amount at Sh356 million.
Rono also testified against a mysterious fire that gutted Migori government offices in 2017.
He said it was strange that the fire gutted the county’s finance offices on the eve of the day county secretary Christopher Rusana was expected to submit to EACC crucial documents in relation to an ongoing probe into financial tender irregularities at the devolved unit.
The witness had earlier stated that probes by both the county government and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations failed to link anyone to the arson attack.
The county office stored crucial tender documents, payment vouchers and receipts, reports, among others. It was burnt on August 25, 2017, at about 2am.
“After considering circumstances under which the office and store were burnt, there is no evidence pointing a finger to any specific person for that fire,” Rono said.
But he went on, “However, the timing of the arson raised a lot of questions on whether it was a deliberate effort to derail the investigations.”
The Obado family are charged alongside businessman Jared Oluoch Kwaga, his wife Christine Akinyi Ochola, mother Penina Auma, brothers Joram Opala Otieno and Patroba Ochanda Otieno, and sister-in-law Carolyne Anyango Ochola.
Also named in the charge sheet are their companies, Misoft Limited, Tarchdog Printers Limited, Kajulu Business Limited, Victorious Investments Limited and Deltrack ICT Services Limited.