The actual amount of money Kenyans may have lost in the National Youth Service (NYS) scam remains a mystery as conflicting figures have been bandied about since the scandal broke.
Initially, reports placed the amount lost in the scandal that involved NYS officials, dummy companies and their directors and some banks, at Sh10 billion.
Later, the figure went down to Sh9.4 billion. All the while, Youth Affairs Principal Secretary Lillian Omollo, who stepped aside to pave way for investigations, denied before the Public Accounts Committee that the amount paid to the dummy companies was that much.
She said the vouchers given to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) are for Sh900 million in the scandal where senior government figures are suspected to have authorised and executed payments in favour of entities which did not supply anything.
However, investigations by the DCI and the National Intelligence Service showed that some money was lost through forged tender documents and by fraudulent access to the Integrated Financial Management Information System.
And when the 43 suspects appeared in court, they were charged with defrauding the public of Sh469 million, an amount that is 21 times less than the Sh10 billion initially said to have been lost in what has come to be known as NYS Season II.
To explain the varying figures that have been published in various forums, head of Bureau of Investigations of the DCI Joseph Kariuki said investigations were still ongoing and that arrests would be made soon.
The BI investigates all companies that were involved in any form of transaction with the NYS within the period under scrutiny.
Investigators go through the tendering process and then gets all the documentations concerning any stipulated supplies. If they are found to be fraudulent, the directors of the companies are sought to explain their roles.
“We have to investigate all the companies, their directors, the NYS staff involved and all the banks before we can charge anyone,” Mr Kariuki said.
The investigations which are ongoing incorporates the efforts of the NIS, Flying Squad, Banking Fraud Investigating Unit, the Special Crimes Investigating Unit, the Serious Crimes Division and others.
Officers are also looking into some of the statements recorded by the 43 suspects nabbed and charged during the first phase of the investigations. Only officers in the rank of Chief Inspectors and above are involved in the investigation.
Investigators had narrowed down on 36 companies which claimed to have supplied NYS with various goods, among them Firstling Supplies, which has already been paid Sh1.3 billion.
But only nine, among them Calabash Investments, Annwaw Investments, Arkroad Holdings Ltd, Kunjiwa Enterprises, Ameratrade Enterprises, Ngiwako Enterprises, Jerrycathy Enterprises, and Ersatz Enterprises have been tried in court.
Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji did not respond to our questions to clarify the varying figures that have been published.
Since its re-launch in September 2014, NYS has constantly been allocated tens of billions in annual budget but which often ends up in individuals’ pockets through dubious tendering and manipulation of the IFMIS at the National Treasury.
For example, in the 2016/17 financial year, the Service was allocated approximately Sh16.8 billion to go towards gender and youth empowerment programs under the revamped National Youth Service.
This went up the following year to over Sh20 billion. Following the recent scandal however, angry MPs slashed Sh8.25 billion from the Sh22 billion that had initially been earmarked to go to NYS.