Bernice Mbugua @BerniceMuhindi
A Nairobi court yesterday issued a warrant of arrest against Paulo Porcelli, the CEO of Italian firm CMC di Ravenna that is at the centre of the Arror/Kimwarer dams scandal.
In the same court, former Kerio Valley Development Authority Managing Director David Kimosop was charged with conspiracy to defraud the government over Sh51 billion, in transactions related to the dams scam. He denied the charges and was released on an Sh12 million cash bail.
Anti-Corruption Court Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti issued the warrant against Porcelli after he failed to appear in court to plead to various charges involving the scandal.
“No sufficient reason has been given on why the accused person is not in court to plead to the charges,” said Ogoti.
The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) through prosecution counsel Taib Ali Taib sought the warrant against Porcelli and directors of CMC di Ravenna–Itinera JV and CMC di Ravenna—Itinera JV Kenya Branch after they failed to appear in court.
“These are foreigners who find it beneath them to appear before a Kenyan court. If we pull this in an Italian court, a warrant would be an issue in a blink of an eye,” said Taib.
Porcelli and the two Italian companies are charged alongside suspended Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich and others with conspiracy to defraud the Kenyan government of over Sh51 billion.
Porcelli and the two companies are also accused of fraudulently receiving over Sh7.6 billion public money through Barclays Bank from the National Treasury knowing that it was fraudulently acquired.
Lawyer Ken Anami, who is representing Porcelli, pleaded not guilty on behalf of the two companies, but Taib argued that the lawyer was not a director of the firms, and thus he would not abide by the bail terms of the court.
“A counsel cannot plead on behalf of the client. If he does so, he ceases to be an advocate and becomes an accused person,” said Taib.
But Anami said he had proper instructions to plead on behalf of the two companies.
“I have instructions to enter a plea of not guilty. This is a legal person and not an actual person. We are willing to file proper resolutions to take plea on behalf of the accused entities,” argued Anami.
Anami said that Porcelli and the two companies were objecting to the charges saying they were defective.
Ogoti declined to issue a warrant of arrest against the two firms saying he had already entered a plea of not guilty through their counsel.
He directed the matter to be taken to the High Court to give directions whether a counsel can plead on behalf of a client which is a corporate entity.
Kimosop, who was charged with seven others, further faces charges of abuse of office, failing to follow procurement procedures and committing an offence of financial misconduct.
Other accused persons are Jackson Kinyanjui, Titus Muriithi, Elizabeth Kebenei, Nelson Korir, Isaac Kiiru, Patrick Kipsang, Fredrick Towett, David Ongare and Boniface Mamboleo. The case will be mentioned on August 8.