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Economy

Four purged in theft of Uhuru ICT millions

Principal Secretary, State Department for ICT & Innovation Victor Kyalo. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG
Principal Secretary, State Department for ICT & Innovation Victor Kyalo. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG 

Four senior managers at the ICT Authority have been suspended after an internal audit revealed they siphoned Sh160 million from an internship project launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Felix Ongaga (director corporate services), Daniel Ouma (head of finance), Peter Mwangi (accountant), and Antony Mwangi (cashier) will also have their assets confiscated to recover money lost in the heist, the government said.

A leaked internal audit report shows the four officials withdrew the cash from ICT Authority’s Citi Bank accounts between January and July this year, wiring the cash disguised as per diem to their bank accounts.

“The acting CEO suspended all the four officers in the finance and accounts department to allow for investigations,” ICT principal secretary Victor Kyalo said in a statement.

“The Assets Recovery Unit and CID were called in to assist in the investigations of the suspected theft. We are determined to get to the bottom of this matter and those found culpable will face the full force of the law including full recovery of all amounts to the last coin,” Mr Kyalo said.

The audit report warns that taxpayers may have lost much more money, with investigations showing the looting scheme may have started in 2015.

The probe only focused on the period between January and July 19, 2017.

Most of the stolen money was earmarked for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s flagship internship project targeting 400 engineering and ICT graduates, dubbed the Presidential Digital Talent Programme.

The cash was withdrawn in batches of less than Sh500,000, to avoid the need for the CEO’s approval, the audit report says. They were wiring lots of between Sh483,000 and Sh499,650 within days to their accounts.

The four also used the names of 21 well known Saccos to channel the cash masked as monthly deductions to an account at Equity Bank #ticker:EQTY, but the auditors established that the account used did not even belong to the mentioned cooperatives.

“The 21 names using the same account number are the names of existing sacco societies but the account number does not belong to the saccos,” says the audit report.

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