Kenyan taxpayers’ worst nightmare is unfolding.
Less than a week after President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered that Sh1.4 billion be paid for two Anglo Leasing projects, the man who got the money has come back demanding Sh3.05 billion more.
Mr Anura Perrera, identified by former Ethics and Anti-Corruption Permanent Secretary John Githongo as the shadowy figure behind many Anglo Leasing-type projects, is now demanding the new payment for a separate project carried out by a company associated with him.
Deputy Solicitor General Muthoni Kimani and Treasury Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge told the Public Accounts Committee yesterday that the government had received a notice of claim for Project Flagstaff, linked to the National Intelligence Service (NIS).
At the same time, Dr Thugge said there was no written directive from President Kenyatta for the first payment and the National Treasury only sought and got the approval of the Controller of Budget to make the payment because the Head of State “supported” the expense.
Project Flagstaff was a contract for the design, supply and installation of various electronic security equipment for NIS, but there are no more details about it.
Ms Kimani said that of the seven other Anglo Leasing-type contracts that became the subject of investigations in 2005, Project Flagstaff was not evaluated by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, who had been hired to appraise their value and procurement.
It was on the basis of the report by the private accounting firm that the government challenged the claims for Anglo Leasing contracts. Some, like the value of bandwidth provided by Universal Satspace, were quashed by the court.
“The project was alive when PwC was evaluating but the caveat was that due to national security considerations it was not among the 18 that were to be evaluated,” she said in a meeting with legislators at Parliament Buildings.
Ms Kimani said now that Mr Perrera has lodged the claim, the government is looking for someone to evaluate the contract and report on how much work has been done.
She told the committee she could neither show them a copy of the notice of claim nor remember when it was sent but gave the impression that it was fairly recent, probably this year.
Ms Kimani said the file on that matter was locked in the State Law Office in an office whose occupant was in Mombasa on official duties.
This new claim appeared to agitate members of the committee, which began the special sittings on Wednesday with the aim of finding out whether Kenya was open to any other claims from the security and ICT contracts that were collectively known as Anglo Leasing.
“If Mr Anura Perrera, who has just walked away with Sh1.4 billion has slapped Kenya with a claim, it would be important that the Kenyan taxpayer knows what is going on,” said PAC chairman Ababu Namwamba (Budalang’i, ODM).
He said that if Mr Perrera’s claim is successful, it will mean that five of the contracts he had under the Anglo Leasing batch of suspicious claims will have been paid.
The Sri Lankan businessman was also behind First Mercantile Securities Corporation, Universal Satspace and the firms that supplied the naval ship and Project Nexus, a communication system for the Kenya Defence Forces.
“Is this a conspiracy to pay Anura Perrera’s contracts?” Junet Mohammed (Suna East, ODM) asked. “Four projects of his have been paid. The fifth one does not even appear on the PwC report. What justification will you have not to pay the fifth one?”