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Economy

Kabura took out sacks of cash without security

Public Accounts Committee chairperson Nicholas Gumbo. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE
National Assembly Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Nicholas Gumbo. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE 

Embattled businesswoman Josephine Kabura was on Tuesday at pains to explain her dealings with the National Youth Service (NYS), including the withdrawal of more than Sh100 million in cash from a bank without security arrangements.

The withdrawals were made in March 2015 from an account held by Roof and All Trading -- one of Ms Kabura’s companies that dealt with NYS.
Ms Kabura said she used the money to pay suppliers of construction materials at a quarry in Ongata Rongai – a response that put her in trouble with MPs probing the scandal.

“I would carry the money in one bag at a time to the site. A bag would fit between Sh10 million to Sh20 million. The suppliers at the quarry were working day and night and I had to have ready cash with me,” she told the Public Accounts Committee chaired by Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo.

Suba MP John Mbadi said it was not humanly possible to carry the Sh100 million in cash as it is equivalent to 100 kilograms or the weight of two bags of cement.

Ms Kabura, who was accompanied by her lawyer could, however, not provide proof of transactions or receipts showing the money was actually paid to suppliers at the quarry.

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She denied that the money withdrawn was later deposited in accounts held by Horizon Limited and Ratego Technologies, both companies belonging to controversial businessman Ben Gethi.

PAC’s analysis found that the teller who served Ms Kabura when she withdrew the cash is the same one who handled Mr Gethi’s deposits on the same day at Family Bank’s Kenya Tea Development Authority (KTDA) branch.

When he appeared before the PAC, Mr Gethi denied a role in the loss of Sh791 million at the NYS, arguing that his firm, Horizon Limited, supplied the youth agency with fuel and not building materials, which were linked to the theft of NYS millions.

Previous witnesses at the committee have said that the money did not leave the banking hall of Family Bank.

Ms Kabura said she is the sole proprietor of 20 companies that transacted business with the NYS and have to date received Sh1.67 billion.

She told the PAC that registering the numerous companies ensured she had increased chances of getting business opportunities.

All her contracts with the NYS were through local purchase orders (LPOs) and only a few (an unspecified number) were pre-qualified to do business with the government.

She said that in November 2014, she received her first LPO for the delivery of construction materials for the Kibera project by Hassan Noor (who was the Chief of Staff at the ministry).

“I held regular Sunday meetings with Mr Adan Harake (former NYS deputy director-general), Hassan Noor and other officials at NYS Headquarters where we shared and brainstormed on the deliveries and accomplished pending supplies and payments and upcoming LPOs,” read her affidavit.

Ms Kabura confessed that she has never filed tax returns with the Kenya Revenue Authority despite having pocketed Sh1.67 billion from the NYS contracts.

At one point, committee members were upset by her refusal to answer questions and when she did, her statements contradicted an affidavit she had filed in court earlier in the year.

“You must answer the questions posed otherwise we will declare you a hostile witness and that has consequences. Lying under oath amounts to perjury and that too has consequences,” said Mr Gumbo.

Ms Kabura was also asked to explain her relationship with John Kago, a driver at KCB Group, who is entangled in the Sh346 million that was stolen from NYS.

She said Mr Kago was a friend she had loaned Sh60 million at an interest rate of 10 per cent and which he repaid within the agreed time frame of five months.

When pressed to provide additional details on the total amount received above the principal amount of Sh60 million, she said she could not recall.

In her affidavit, Ms Kabura said she met former Devolution and Planning secretary Ann Waiguru between April and May 2012 while working at Kenya Data Networks (KDN) and they became good friends.

She said Ms Waiguru gave clear instructions that she (Ms Kabura) opens bank accounts, specifically at Family Bank’s KTDA branch, for the companies she had helped her register.

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