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Economy

Uhuru pledges recovery of lost Sh180m youth cash

Mr Joseph Kinyua, the head of public service, before the National Assembly’s Public Investment Committee on April 12, 2016. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE
Mr Joseph Kinyua (centre), the head of public service, before the National Assembly’s Public Investment Committee on April 12, 2016. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE 

President Uhuru Kenyatta has disbanded the board of Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF) and committed to recover the Sh180 million lost through a dubious contract.

Public Service head and chief of staff Joseph Kinyua Tuesday told Parliament that the government would also punish officials who sit on the board on behalf of the Treasury and Public Service PSs for failing to advise it on the happenings at the YEDF.

“We will recover the money from chairman (Bruce Odhiambo) because he gave wrong communication in the actions that he took which he ought not to have taken,” said Mr Kinyua.

Quorandum Ltd, the company at the centre of the loss of public funds at the YEDF, handled a suspect IT contract and was paid Sh180 million despite the paying bank, Chase Bank, having flagged the transaction as suspicious.

Standard Chartered Bank submitted to the Public Investment Committee (PIC) details of numerous transfers made to Mr Odhiambo’s account in a different bank from a StanChart account held by Quorandum, the firm at the centre of the scam.

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This is the first time Mr Odhiambo has been directly linked to Quorandum.

The Quorandum director wareported to have used proceeds of the stolen YEDF cash to purchase a five bedroom house in Lavington Estate, Nairobi for Sh48 million.

Mr Odhiambo, a former music producer, last month resigned as chairperson of the YEDF one year before the end of his tenure.

On Tuesday, Mr Kinyua tabled two gazette notices, one revoking the appointment of Mr Odhiambo and the other dismissing the YEDF board before the House committee.

“I Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya and CIC of Kenya Defence Forces revoke the appointment of Bruce Odhiambo as the chairman of the board of the Youth Enterprise Development Fund,” says the legal notice dated April 8, 2016 singed by Mr Kenyatta.

The President sacked Sella Bogongo, Paul Gathura Ng’ang’a, Sabra Omar Hussein, Jane Mutinda, Mike Wamae, Clement Ayungo and Nicholas Mwaniki as members of the YEDF board.

Mr Kinyua appeared before PIC to shed light as to why President Kenyatta had failed to act on the advice of the State Corporations Advisory Committee and the Public Service and Youth ministry Cabinet secretary Sicily Kariuki to sack Mr Odhiambo and the board following the loss of Sh180 million.

Mr Odhiambo had confessed before PIC of having unilaterally acted in appointing suspended YEDF chief executive Catherine Namuye as the sole signatory to the fund bank accounts.

Ms Namuye then authorised the transfer of Sh180 million in two installments of Sh115 million and Sh65 million from Chase Bank to Quorandum Limited, a company that had not provided any service to the YEDF.

On Tuesday, Mr Kinyua confirmed that Mr Odhiambo broke the law in authorising the appointment of Ms Namuye as the sole bank signatory.

He said the delay in sacking Mr Odhiambo and the board was occasioned by his absence in office and ill-health.

He said State Corporations Act does not confer benefits that include official vehicles, body guards and drivers to non-executive chairpersons.

Mr Odhiambo enjoyed full trappings power including a Sh12 million official Toyota Prado, bodyguards and drivers, according to the testimony to the committee by acting YEDF chief executive Immanuel Odero.

“We will take action on representatives of PSs who sat in the board. We did that at Kenya Seed Company when I was PS Agriculture. They were part of the decisions made at the YEDF,” said Mr Kinyua.

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