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NYS bosses among 40 to record statements on Sh9bn scandal

Sunday May 20 2018

 National Youth Service College

President Uhuru Kenyatta inspects a recruits parade during a recent ceremony at the National Youth Service College in Gilgil, Nakuru County. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

FRED MUKINDA
By FRED MUKINDA
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WANJOHI GITHAE
By WANJOHI GITHAE
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Principal Secretary Lillian Mbogo-Omollo and National Youth Service boss Richard Ndubai are among 40 people who have been summoned by police for questioning tomorrow over the Sh9 billion scandal at the youth agency.

Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti said he had assembled a team of detectives to take statements from those scheduled to appear at the headquarters, off Kiambu Road.

Other NYS officials summoned include accountants, supplies management officials and procurement officers.

Also wanted by the police are suppliers and directors of companies that were involved in business with NYS.

The DCI is investigating the loss of Sh9 billion.

“I’m giving them an opportunity to bring what they have, including all records they think will convince our officers that money was paid genuinely. I have assembled enough detectives. I want to be clinical because after that we shall meet in court and then, I do not want to hear people saying they were not listened to,” said Mr Kinoti.

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DIRECTORS OF COMPANIES

He added: “We have summoned all those who have been mentioned, whether they are government officials or directors of companies, whether existing or phantom.”

The Sunday Nation learned that some of those summoned had rushed to court to try and obtain bail in anticipation of being charged over the scandal. Among those who had tried to get anticipatory bail is Mr Ndubai, who stepped aside from his position as NYS Director-General on Friday to allow detectives to conduct investigations.

At the same time, Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Opiyo Wandayi described as a red-herring the decision by Ms Omolo and Mr Ndubai to step aside to pave way for investigations.

“Stepping aside is a strange terminology that’s not recognised by law. The least that the public expects of anyone linked, however, remotely, with the NYS fraud is immediate and total resignation from office,” Mr Wandayi said.

In a long list of the companies under investigation, two firms – Firstling Supplies and Flagstone Merchants – received Sh1.7 billion from the NYS between November and December last year, part of payments that are now being investigated.

DOUBLE PAYMENTS

An official privy to the investigations by the DCI said most of the transactions were double payments. In one case, a company presented a single voucher but four payments were made.

Each of the multiple payments was worth more than Sh46 million, with the difference in amounts varying by only a few hundred shillings. In another quadruple payment, the amounts received by the company were exactly the same yet only one voucher was available for scrutiny.

The detectives also established that a number of companies claimed money as payment for supply of tyres to NYS. Detectives are struggling to establish if the deliveries were made in the first place.

The investigation has further revealed how some of the money was pilfered from the public coffers.

Multiple payments were authorised from the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) to the companies’ accounts at intervals, releasing the whole amount in less than an hour after it was claimed.

COMMERCIAL BANKS

An audit into the accounts at commercial banks showed a similar trend where the money was withdrawn immediately.

Detectives are scrutinising documents from all NYS departments, in Nairobi and other parts of the country, after which those suspected of misdeeds will be summoned to give their side of the story.

The DCI is trying to establish whether the law was followed in the award of tenders and whether the companies supplied any goods against which they have been paid.

The Nation was also told that the investigation was discussed by the National Security Advisory Committee. 

The scandal has revived a heap of complaints by genuine suppliers who are facing ruin as auctioneers descend on their property. The worst affected are those who obtained bank loans on the strength of Local Purchase Orders issued by NYS, but the latter has not paid since 2016.

The siphoning of money from NYS was a well-orchestrated plan with key players in decision-making process involved in every government office that mattered.

GOVERNMENT COFFERS

The payment process would be initiated from the NYS head office, then the Ministry of Youth headquarters would okay it before Treasury would allow the money to leave government coffers right to banks where it would be withdrawn within hours of hitting designated accounts.

In every step, there were key people ensuring no decision geared to remitting the money was delayed. The whole plan was so efficient that bank managers would be notified a day before that money would hit accounts at a certain time and they were supposed to prepare cash in form of dollars. American dollars were preferred to Kenyan shillings because they are less bulky. The man who made the withdrawals is well-known to all key players in the ministry and NYS and has a propensity for drinking whisky while waiting for deals to mature.

Once Treasury gave a signal that money was available to the ministry, procurement officials would prepare vouchers of select companies to be paid. They would then alert their ministry contacts who, in turn ,would send word to IFMIS people. The last group would then okay payments.

SIX BANKS

It is understood that six banks were involved in the siphoning with managers allowing bulk withdrawals of dollars.

The most preferred bank has a branch on Kiambu Road where money would be withdrawn within hours by the contact man. It would then be shared among representatives of senior officials who sent their representatives to collect their part of the bargain.

By Friday, detectives were mulling the prospect of finding no money in some of the accounts used to loot NYS.

Early this year, some of the suppliers who were yet to be paid after years of playing cat and mouse games with NYS contracted a private company to conduct investigations on what was really going on.

As detectives prepare to question the various individuals linked to the scandal, they have at least six laws to guide them. They include the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, 2003, Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2009, Prevention of  Organised Crimes Act, 2010, Penal Code, Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act No 33 of 2015 and Public Finance Management Act, 2012.