The Molasses Theory Comes Unstuck


Ultimately, the evidence suggests, the ‘BAK Group’, its ‘directors’ Airaghi and Briner-Mattern and their nominee companies were ejected from the ‘Molasses Project’ by the Minister of Industry, Dalmas Otieno, because they had not raised the money from Italy for the rehabilitation of the Kisumu site; they asked for various levels of substantial payments that were not in the original agreement; and they were not ‘competent’.

It is difficult to see how the ‘Molasses Project-Corruption’ theory gained the currency it did and continues to do so to this day. Again the information and evidence that disproves has been available for at least 20 years and even some of those who ascribed to the theory and in their investigations or through testimony helped to propagate came to admit that it had little or no basis in fact. It is difficult as result to see how it could have provided a motive for Dr. Ouko’s murder in February 1990.

The timing of the key events in the end game of the Molasses Project makes it extremely unlikely that it was a factor in Ouko’s murder.

The project was effectively put on hold by Dalmas Otieno in March 1988, nearly two years before the murder and Biwott’s official involvement ended at the Cabinet meeting of the 3rd November, 1987 when specific duties for the project were handed to the Ministries of Industry, Finance, and the Attorney General and not to Biwott’s Ministry of Energy, Planning and Agriculture.

A multitude of official papers and correspondence also go against the theory.

The Cabinet papers, Dr Ouko’s own correspondence and other evidence prove that all decisions relating to the Kisumu Molasses Project were ultimately taken by the Cabinet. These were contained in the Kenya Government’s ‘Molasses File’ that were available in 1990. The British detective John Troon, however, did not ask to see the file, nor it seems did he ask Dalmas Otieno any questions about the Kisumu Molasses Project as the British detective John Troon accepted at the Judicial Inquiry, where the following exchange with lawyer Ishan Kapila took place:

Kapila:    “Mr Troon… you took a statement from Mr Dalmas Otieno, did you not? The Minister of   Industry?

Troon:    “I did my Lords”

Kapila:    “Did you ascertain any of these facts from him? [about the Molasses Project].

Troon:    “I could have done it in conversation, but I don’t think it is included in his statement. It is possible I did ask whether there was a file in existence and he said there was but not readily available, and that is my recollection my Lords.”

Kapila:    “Did you make arrangements for the provision of this file to you after that meeting?”

Troon:    “Not that I am aware of my Lords, no.”

[4 Judicial Inquiry transcript, 21 November 1991, pages 7-8]

Troon, in effect, rejected Dalmas Otieno’s evidence without ever asking for or looking at the Government Molasses File.

If Troon had have read the file, or even have asked those in a position to know about the Molasses Project, it is hard to believe that he would ever have put forward his theory. 

The critical piece of evidence overlooked by Troon was that the two Italian firms involved with the Molasses Project, Asea Brown Boveri (ABB) Tecnomassio SpA and Tecnomasio Italiano/Brown Boveri, were both introduced by Domenico Airgahi to Minister Dalmas Otieno [14 Domenico Airaghi’s witness  statement, 9 May 1990] and were part of the same multinational group. So there was no ‘rival tender’ and logically no bribe would have been asked of, or paid by a company to win a tender against itself.

The allegation by Marianne Briner-Mattern and to a certain extent Domenico Airaghi, which had been fully accepted by Troon and later given credence by Dorothy Randiak’s testimony (but not mentioned in her first two witness statements), had been that Biwott, Saitoti and others, working through an intermediary, had sought to get a ‘kickback’ for one company to get the contract over the other.

Dorothy Randiak, Dr Ouko’s sister, however accepted under cross examination at the Judicial Inquiry on 12th August, 1990 that there could have been no rivalry between the two companies. Her exchanges with lawyer Kaplia are revealing.

Kapila:        “Can you tell us, to the best of your knowledge, can you identify the rival group supported by Mr Biwott?”

Randiak:    “My Lords, as I was told by the late Minister, the other group was Asea Brown Boveri.”

Kapila:        “And your evidence is that at some stage Mr Biwott received a bribe from the Brown Boveri Group?”

Randiak:    “That was what I was told My Lords…”

Kapila:        “Did Mr Airaghi have anything to do with the Brown Boveri Group?”

Randiak:    “he did not tell me anything about that my Lords.”

Kapila:    “But your evidence is that the Brown Boveri Group came into the picture after the rejection of Airaghi’s group of companies, is that correct?”

Randiak:    “That’s what I was told My Lords”.

Kapila:        “And it is also your evidence that because of the pressure exerted by Mr Biwott, the contract was given to Brown Boveri as opposed to the Airaghi Group?”

Randiak:    “Yes my Lords”

Later in the cross-examination Dorothy Randiak stated, “As a result of rejection of that group, Airaghi

was deported from the country. As a result of the pressure put by Biwott and the rejection of that group,

Airaghi was deported from the country in the course of that year”.

However, after being shown a letter from Asea Brown Boveri Group addressed to Dalmas Otieno, the

Minister of Industry that showed  Domenico Airaghi had introduced Technomasio (which fully belonged

to the multinational, Asea Brown Boveri Group) to the Kenyan Government, Dorothy Randiak was

asked, “How can they be rival groups?” She replied:

“My Lords my piece of information is based on the conversation and discussions between me and my brother and not on the documents tabled. But on the strength of the documents that you have read, that I have followed, it would appear that there was no rivalry.” [96 Judicial Inquiry transcript, pages 31-33 and 39]

And finally, Domenico Airaghi’s documentation proves beyond doubt that he introduced Asea Brown Boveri. In a letter dated 30th August 1988, , Airaghi and Briner-Mattern wrote to an Italian company, stating: ‘To answer all your questions regarding BAK’s position in Kenya, we can inform you that ASEA-BROWN BOVERI/TECNOMASIO has signed with us an irrevocable cooperation agreement on an exclusive basis for Kenya for government and private projects…’ [97 letter to Fiera di Trieste from BAK]

The evidence to date provides no credible support for Troon’s theory based on Briner-Mattern’s and Airaghi’s testimony that the primary motive for the murder of Dr Robert Ouko was the Molasses Project. All of the available evidence is against it.