Harbinder Singh Sethi is one of the young Asian fixers who made fortunes during the 1980’s when President Moi created his own business and real estate empire. Described in the press as a ‘Kenyan businessman’ or ‘tycoon’, Harbinder Singh Sethi was born and raised in Iringa, a small town in Tanzania’s Southern Highlands. In his early 20s, Sethi and his two elder brothers Nota Singh and Manjit Singh registered Ruaha Concrete Co Ltd, (November 1977), all three giving P. O. Box 498, Iringa as their address. In the 1980s, Harbinder moved to Nairobi, where he became a bagman for President Daniel arap Moi’s eldest son Gideon. He is also reported to be a close friend of Nicholas Biwott, an immensely rich politician/businessman crony of Moi’s, with whom he is said to part-own the controversial 47 MW Westmont power plant in Mombasa, along with Mukesh Gohil, KamleshPattni, Mr Gichuru, the Managing Director, KPLC, Mr Mutitu, the PS, Ministry of Energy, and Gideon Moi (October 1997). Investigations by Kroll found that: ‘…Gideon owns a number of properties in South Africa. His frontman, Harbinder Singh Sethi, has 74 properties listed under “closed corporations”, all of which are registered in Mr Sethi’s name. The Report of the Kenya Auditor General (Corporations) (1997) cites a contract awarded irregularly by the state corporation (parastatal) Kenya Pipeline Company to Ruaha Concrete Ltd to build a 9 km access road, involving delays, large cost overruns, and poor workmanship. According to the AG’s report, Ruaha is registered ‘under the category of painters and builders of access roads in estates.’ Supervising Engineer A. S. Kitololo resigned after refusing to sign off on shoddy work. The total project cost rose from KShs 197 million in February 1995 to over KShs 510 million in June 1998, when the project was finally completed. On inspection, the road was found to be sub-standard. The report recommended that Ruaha Concrete be blacklisted and investigated. Another Sethi company, Pan Africa Builders and Contractors, (PABCO), entered into a contract with Kenya’s National Social Security Fund (NSSF) to build houses, apartments and a shopping centre on the Fund’s Kitisuru Estate in Nairobi for nearly Kshs 2 billion. The completion date was scheduled for May, 2000. The project was subsequently delayed and ‘scaled down’ to Kshs 822 million. On handing over the project in February 2007, the account was not settled, and PABCO sued NSSF for a total of Kshs 1.3 billion. On 31 August, 2010 the High Court found in favour of PABCO to the tune of KShs 668 million, plus costs and accrued interest. PABCO eventually settled for KShs 590m. PAB defaulted in paying the Kenya Revenue Authority tax amounting to 260 million shillings. As a result of his shady business practices, the parliamentary Public Investments Committee (PIC) blacklisted Mr Sethi, recommending that he should not be allowed to undertake construction work anywhere in the country. To complete the picture, as a director of Hydrotanz Ltd, Mr Sethi also has interests in oil and gas exploration in a JV with Adhunik Group. The group has acquired an Oil and Gas Block in “Mnazi Bay”, Songo Songo Island. Hydrotanz is located at Plot No 887 Mrikau Street, Masaki Dar Es Salaam , the same address as PAP.
Recently, Mr Sethi has showcased IPTL/PAP’s Corporate Social Responsibility with the following donations: Shs 11m for a church choir SACCOS for St Rita Wakashia church in Kimara; Shs 10m for the construction of Mbweni-Malindi Police Station; Shs 14.5m in support of the construction of St. Peter’s Church in Dar es Salaam; and Shs 20m for Athletics Tanzania (AT) in support of the national athletics championship (total CSR: Shs 55.5m).
Source: Articles of Association of Ruaha Concrete 1977; Kroll report (extracts); Report of the Auditor-General (Corporations) on the Accounts of Kenya Pipeline Company for the Year ended 30th June 1997 (pp 75-78); ‘Clarification’ by Kenya’s NSSF on Media Stories, 3 April 2012. http://hydrotanz.com/. See References (Annex 2) for links to Sethi’s bogus business deals in Kenya, his role as bagman for Gideon Moi and his business links with Biwott and Pattni, and his Hydrotanz venture into gas exploration.