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Celebrated fraud buster who enjoys wine and rearing goats

Mr Muchere says when an auditor is bribed with, say Sh10 million, to cover up theft of funds meant for buying vital medical equipment then 1,000 patients die, this should bother him. PHOTO | BD GRAPHIC
Mr Muchere says when an auditor is bribed with, say Sh10 million, to cover up theft of funds meant for buying vital medical equipment then 1,000 patients die, this should bother him. PHOTO | BD GRAPHIC 

Bernard Muchere, the internal auditor who unearthed the Sh5 billion Health ministry scandal, describes himself as a committed civil servant and a fearless fraud buster. He has been intimidated many times and people have also attempted to compromise him.

When his report, detailing billions worth of questionable contracts awarded to dubious suppliers, was first published by this paper, his critics came out of the woodwork and did just about all they could to discredit Mr Muchere who is only two years to retirement age.

The magnitude of the Afya House scam may have shoved him to the public limelight, but Mr Muchere prefers anonymity.

He says that intimidation and attempts at compromising him by interested parties are normal encounters in the course of his professional duty.

“When God is using you, he gives you a heart that can endure all these things. When I picture people suffering as a result of fraud, I realise that I have a higher calling,” he says during an interview with the Business Daily.

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Falling into temptation, he says, can leave the compromised party haunted for a very long time.

Mr Muchere says when an auditor is bribed with, say Sh10 million, to cover up theft of funds meant for buying vital medical equipment then 1,000 patients die, this should bother him.

“If this auditor uses that money to buy a house, he should in fact see himself sleeping in a thousand coffins,” says Mr Muchere, adding that he does not subscribe to the politics of sycophancy with the intention of pleasing the establishment.

Perhaps it is this hard stance against fraud and corruption that earned him recognition as an integrity champion during a recent anti-graft award ceremony.

His recognition happened during International Anti-Corruption Day (December 9), at a ceremony organised by civil society partners including Transparency International-Kenya, the Society for International Development and Mzalendo Trust.

The 58-year-old father of two says it has a taken a lot of sacrifice to become one of the best fraud busters in the world.

Born to peasant farmers on the slopes of Mt Kenya, he recalls a difficult life growing up with his parents struggling to put him and his nine siblings through school.

Today, he is the President of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, Kenya Chapter, a position he has held for three years now.

The association with a membership of 450 certified fraud examiners, comprises experts in prevention and deterring fraud schemes.

Prior to being president of the lobby group, he served as the vice-president of the association for two years.

The Global Association of Certified Fraud Examiners is based in Austria and has registered 45,000 experts in 120 countries.

Certified fraud examiners are experts in forensic audit, whose reports have to state in clear terms the crime committed, the costs involved, the perpetrators and the victim(s) of the fraud.

His journey as an auditor kicked off in earnest in 1979 when he started work at the Treasury upon completion of his O-level education at Othaya Boys High School.

While still at work, he enrolled at the Kenya Polytechnic, currently the Technical University of Kenya to pursue a course in accounting.

Later on he did a diploma in internal auditing at KCA University and strategic leadership development management programme at the Kenya School of Government.

He became a certified fraud examiner in 2009. The fraud-busting profession was founded by Joseph Wells, an accountant and Dr Donald Cressey, a criminologist, in 1985.

This was necessary to be able to tackle the greatest problem in the world of finance in the 21st century - fraud.

Before the onset of devolution, Mr Muchere had been transferred from the Treasury and worked as a district internal auditor in more than 10 districts, mostly at the Coast.

He was moved back to the ministry headquarters and has worked in various ministries as the head of internal audit.

He worked at the National Youth Service when it was under the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Ministry of Public Works, Ministry of Industrialisation and Enterprise Development, Ministry of East African Community Affairs Commerce and Tourism and at the Ministry of Health.

His recent transfer from Afya House raised concern on whether the true magnitude of the scam will be known and somewhat frustrates ongoing investigations before parliamentary health committees.

The Treasury recalled Mr Muchere in a mini-reshuffle, with Cabinet secretary Henry Rotich saying his transfer was as a result of recent promotions of eight senior internal audit staff to the Directorate of Schools Audit.

He appears not bothered by the changes and keeps his focus on unravelling fraud schemes, crimes which he says are committed by individuals and not the government.

While critics have attacked the reliability of the Integrated Financial Management Information System, Mr Muchere maintains that it is a good system as it helps in establishing an audit trail.

Away from work, the auditor, who is travel junkie, likes associating with people outside his professional line over a glass of wine or soda.

At times he hits the gym to keep fit, but lately this has been a challenge due of the workload on his table.

He does a bit of farming which includes rearing cows, goats and chicken as well as growing tomatoes and carrots, some of which are for commercial purposes.

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