A Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) official has told the court that passwords of two former employees used in releasing containers without payment of Sh105.6 million in taxes should have been deactivated immediately they retired.
KPA head of human resources Boaz Ouko said the costly anomaly would have been avoided if the officers concerned deactivated passwords of Ms Rose Musau and Ms Florence Lagat immediately they left the organisation.
“The officer who signed and stamped clearance certificates of the two from information and technology department should have deactivated their passwords immediately,” Mr Ouko told Mombasa Senior Principal Magistrate Francis Kyambia on Monday.
The HR manager said once an employee retires or resigns, the process of clearing with all departments begins and that during this stage, the employee is required to fill a clearance certificate that must be signed by all departments.
Mr Ouko was testifying in a case in which 31 people, among them KPA and Kenya Revenue Authority employees and traders, have been charged with conspiring to release 124 containers without paying Sh105.6 million tax.
The KRA and KPA employees are also facing charges of abuse of office and aiding and abetting fraudulent evasion of taxes.
Mr Ouko said it was strange that long after the employees had left the organisation, their passwords were still active.
“Prior to this incident I had not received any complaints from the IT department. I have not come across a case where passwords of retired employees are still active long after they are gone,” he said
This comes after it emerged that codes belonging to Ms Musau and Ms Lagat, who worked in the import manifest department prior to their retirement in 2015, had been used to release containers without remitting taxes to the government.
Mr Ouko said he learned of the active passwords when he was called to record a statement at KRA but it was too late to take any action as the matter was under investigation.
He said HR should not be blamed for the anomalies since it has no role in assigning or deactivating employees’ passwords.
“Someone must have been assigned the work. HR cannot be blamed for what happened. We are involved in recruitment of staff but we don’t assign passwords,” he said.
Mr Ouko said that someone in the IT department might have failed to do their work by not deactivating the passwords even after the employees had retired.
He told the court the systems at the port are working properly but failed to clarify whether the system might have been manipulated.
Mr Ouko declined to address the issue of the millions of shillings lost in taxes, saying it was the work of KRA.
“We have no revenue collection department under KPA. It is not our responsibility to collect custom duties, let someone else be blamed but not HR,” he said.
The suspects have denied the offence they are alleged to have committed between May 1 and August 3, 2016 at Kilindini port.