K24TVThe mastermind behind the theft of condemned brown sugar Crispus Waithaka was on Saturday night arrested at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) after he arrived in the country from Dubai
Waithaka, a holder of passport number BK 237924, arrived in the country at around 9:00 pm aboard Fly Emirates flight number EK721.
The suspect was intercepted by Immigration Department officers following a departure prohibition order issued against him.
He was found in possession of an interim order for an anticipatory bail of Sh100,000 granted by the High Court in Mombasa vide Criminal Miscellaneous Application No. E067/2023, dated May 19.
The detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) rearrested and escorted him to Kamukunji Police Station where he was placed in custody.
He is expected to be charged in court on Monday, with the diversion of condemned sugar that had been earmarked for conversion into industrial ethanol.
According to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) records, Waithaka who is the director of Asset and Cargo Limited was one of the people who witnessed the breaking of the Customs seals of the 40 containers containing the condemned sugar on April 20.
The investigations into the diversion of condemned sugar have already been finalized and the file forwarded to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP).
The DCI detectives have recommended that top managers of the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and some Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) be charged with various charges, among them abuse of office.
Several officials will be charged while some will be treated as witnesses, according to the DCI’s recommendations to the DPP. The detectives also recommended that others be dealt with administratively or internally.
Among those sent home to pave way for the investigations are attached to the KEBS, KRA, National Police Service and Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA).
Head of Public Service Felix Koskei on Wednesday last week announced the suspension of the said public officers, adding that President William Ruto had been briefed on the irregular and criminal release of condemned sugar that had been earmarked for conversion into industrial ethanol.”
“It has since been established that the consignment was irregularly diverted and unprocedurally released. Further, the conditions relating to open and competitive enlisting of the distiller were breached and the applicable taxes were not paid,” reads the statement in part.
“It is manifest that some officers in the relevant agencies abdicated their responsibilities, at the risk of public harm,” he added.
The suspended officials include those from KEBS including the Managing Director Lt Col (Rtd) Bernard Njiraini, Dr Geoffrey Muriira (Director of Quality Assurance and Inspection), Hilda Keror (Manager Inspection, Mombasa Port Office), Liston Lagat (Assistant Manager, ICDN Nairobi), Stephen Owuor (Principal Officer), and Peter Olima Joseph (Inspector, Mombasa).
Those affected in KRA include Joseph Kaguru, Mwanja Masinde, Stephen Muiruri, Moses Okoth, Doris Mutembei, Chacha Hondo, Carol Nyagechi and Derick Kago.
Other officials from police who are part of a multi-agency team that handled the sugar and were also suspended include George Mithamo, Joel Kirui, Benard Ngumbi and Raphael Mwaka.
Others include Joseph Maita Mweni (Port Health), Isacko Bonai (NEMA), Stephen Cheruiyot (Anti-Counterfeit Agency), Daniel Ngugi (KEPHIS), Willy Koskei (EACC), and Edwin Ruto (KPA).
AFA officials affected are Oscar Kai and Patrick Magut.
The consignment of 20,000 bags of sugar each weighing 50kgs had been imported into the country in 2018 by Merako Investments Limited from Harare, Zimbabwe but was condemned by KeBS for want of expiry date specification.
But it was later decided that the consignment be converted for industrial ethanol use, which was to be implemented under the joint supervision of KEBS and the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), within a multi-agency framework.
According to the probe, after KEBS condemned the sugar, it was taken to a go-down in Makongeni, Thika awaiting disposal orders.
According to KEBS guidelines, goods that do not conform to the Kenyan standards or approved specifications cannot be permitted into the country, and should be re-shipped, returned or destroyed at the expense of the importer.
However, in December 2022, KEBS MD Njiraini wrote to the KRA Commissioner General saying they had received a request from Assets and Cargo Ltd for conversion of the subject condemned brown sugar into ethanol through distillation.
The letter was copied to Industrialization and Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria and Head of Public Service Felix Koskei.
He said however had reviewed the process for destruction of the condemned consignment and approved in principle destruction of the subject through conversion into ethanol through distillation from approved manufacturers as environmentally friendly destruction.
The letter from the KeBS MD was received by the KRA boss five days later who sought the opinion of the Attorney General. The AG Justine Muturi recommended the cargo be converted to ethanol at designated firms and according to the law.
Police recovered 14 out of 20,000 bags of the original sugar condemned as unfit for human consumption.
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