By Dominic Wabala
THE first set of suspects in the ‘ChickenGate’ scandal is expected in court next week.
Multiple sources in the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission told the Star yesterday the EACC, working jointly with officers from the Director of Public Prosecutions’ office, are aggressively gathering evidence so that they can get the files ready by this weekend.
On Tuesday, the joint EACC and DPP team of investigators stormed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission headquarters offices at Anniversary Towers, Nairobi, where they interrogated a number of senior officials and demanded documents relating to the commission’s dealings with the British printing firm of Smith & Ouzman.
The team spent the better part of the day at IEBC yesterday and it is understood that the documents they obtained will be used with what they will receive from the Serious Fraud Office in the UK to determine what charges to prefer against the suspects.
The EACC and the DPP have been under pressure to arrest and prosecute the Kenyan officials mentioned in a UK court in an SFO prosecution as having received bribes from Smith & Ouzman for printing tenders.
Smith & Ouzman directors Nicholas Smith and Christopher Smith have both been jailed in the UK, for three years and 18 months respectively, for bribing the Kenyan officials and those of three other African countries.
Among those mentioned in the UK court are Energy Minister Davis Chirchir, IEBC boss Isaack Hassan, former CEO James Oswago and a number of National Examinations Council officials.
They have all denied receiving bribes.
“By mid-next week all those mentioned in the ChickenGate scandal will have been summoned, and interrogated. We are putting things together and will use the facts that were presented in the case because it is the same allegations,” senior EACC sources disclosed.
The EACC had sent detectives to London to attend the hearings and judgment of the case in which a 12-man jury at Southwark Crown Court established that payments amounting to about £500,000 (Sh70.5 million) were made to government officials in Kenya, Ghana, Somaliand and Mauritania.
The detectives returned to Kenya and have been compiling their report, which will be used in prosecuting those implicated.
The Kenyan and Smith & Ouzman officials used the word “chicken” in email exchanges and phone conversations as code for the bribes.
The Smith & Ouzman directors were accused of and convicted for paying Sh47 million in bribes in Kenya and another Sh10 million elsewhere in Africa to win business contracts and ensure repeat business.
The EACC has also investigated Trevy James Oyombra, Smith & Ouzman Ltd’s Kenya agent who is alleged to have distributed the bribe money to the Kenyan officials.
The SFO alleged that the offences took place between November 2006 and December 2010.