advertisement
Economy

Ouko reveals theft of Sh1.5bn visas in Kenyan embassies

Washington DC-based ambassador Robinson Githae whose mission is linked to passport breach. PHOTO | FILE
Washington DC-based ambassador Robinson Githae whose mission is linked to passport breach. PHOTO | FILE |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

Several foreign missions cannot account for visa stickers and passports worth Sh1.5 billion, reflecting the poor record keeping in embassies that has paved the way for fraudulent dealings.

Auditor-General Edward Ouko said the Department of Immigration can only account for Sh1.5 billion passports and stickers against documents worth Sh2.9 billion delivered to the embassies in the two years to June last year.

“The resultant difference of Sh1,472,489,638 has not been accounted for,” Mr Ouko said in the financial statements of the State department of Interior for the year to June 2015.

“In these circumstances, total revenue collected, excluding certificate of good conduct, identity cards and others of Sh2.99 billion, differs with the Sh1.52 billion reflected in the financial statements.”

Of the Sh2.9 billion, passports worth Sh268.5 million were delivered to the foreign missions while the embassies received visa stickers worth Sh2.7 billion.

advertisement

The stickers are issued to foreigners who need visas to enter Kenya while the passports are issued to Kenyans in the diaspora.

Mr Ouko said there are no records to show the passports and visas were issued.

“The passports were not recorded at the embassies counter receipt book registers and also not produced for physical audit verification,” said Mr Ouko.

Embassies linked to the passport breach include prime missions like Washington DC, London, Berlin and Pretoria.  

 Former Finance minister Robinson Njeru Githae is the Kenyan ambassador in Washington DC, Joseph Magut (Berlin) and Lazarus Amayo (London).

They were appointed in August 2014, but the period under the Auditor-General probe stretched to July 2013 and covered the first two years of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration.

Kenya has a history of multi-million dollar scandals that have failed to result in high-profile convictions. This has angered the public, who accuse top officials of acting with impunity and encouraging graft by those in lower posts.

Fraudulent dealings

Businesses also often cite pervasive corruption as one of the biggest obstacles to investment.

Faced with a growing public outcry last year, Mr Kenyatta promised to root out corruption in the government.

Five ministers stepped aside in 2015 after they faced corruption investigations and then lost their jobs in a reshuffle. Two former ministers are facing trial.

But Kenyans have focused more on pursuing local scandals, making it easier for embassy staff to engage in fraudulent dealings, especially flawed procurement.

Taxpayers have lost billions of shillings through controversial purchase of properties by the Foreign Affairs ministry.

Embassy staff have either disregarded valuation estimates by the Land ministry or failed to involve experts to justify disbursement of public money from the Treasury.

In 2010, senior officials at the Foreign Affairs ministry stepped aside amid a scandal involving the alleged misuse of funds for several land deals abroad.

The ministry is alleged to have refused an offer of land from the Japanese government in central Tokyo for a new embassy, opting instead for a building further away, against the advice of an estate agency.

Kenya lost $14m (Sh1.4 billion) during the land deal.

Money was also allegedly lost on embassy deals in Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, Belgium and Pretoria, where officials spent millions of shillings to buy properties that were condemned for demolition after purchase.

advertisement