Kenya’s finance minister Henry Rotich has pleaded not guilty to corruption charges over the award of two dam tenders.
The cabinet secretary made the plea today in a Nairobi court, a day after he was sensationally arrested for graft charges. It was the first time in Kenya that a sitting minister would be arrested for suspected corruption.
Kenya Standard newspaper said Rotich denied the charges as they were read out to him by prosecutors before a packed anti-corruption court in Nairobi.
The charges against Rotich stem from a police investigation into the misuse of funds in two dam projects planned for the west of the country, overseen by Italian construction company CMC Di Ravenna.
Government will also seek the extradition of Paolo Porcelli, the Italian director of CMC di Ravenna, to face charges, the director of public prosecutions told Reuters on Tuesday.
“We have the Italian individual, he has not managed to present himself so we will be seeking for his extradition to come and face the charges here in Kenya. We will also issue an international arrest warrant,” Noordin Haji said.
CMC di Ravenna has denied any wrongdoing.
In a statement on Monday, the company said it had not been informed of “any official communication from the Kenyan authorities… CMC is certain of the correctness of the work of the company and its representatives, both in Italy and abroad”.
The two dams were budgeted to cost 46 billion shillings ($446 million) but the treasury borrowed 63 billion instead, Haji said on Monday, needlessly ratcheting up Kenya’s ballooning public debt, which stands at around 55% of GDP.