Was the Sh791 million stolen from NYS recovered?
“Let’s start with the Sh791 (million), are you aware that it’s been recovered? It’s been in the papers but nobody cares to think about it. It was traced to bank accounts, to individuals, and it was recovered, by the asset recovery agencies… This is the first time in this country that money stolen from government has been recovered…”
- Kirinyaga County Gubernatorial Candidate Anne Waiguru JKL Show interview on May 31
According to a report by Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC), former Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Devolution and Planning, Anne Waiguru,was responsible for the entire loss of public funds at the ministry during her tenure by her failure to exercise leadership effectively.
The committee concluded that the theft was well orchestrated and recommended that Ms Waiguru “be barred from holding public office, if found guilty after due process, in light of her overall leadership failures at the ministry.”
In 2016, a special audit of the National Youth Service accounts by the Auditor General revealed an elaborate scheme to defraud taxpayers that led to the loss of Sh1.9 billion and an attempted theft of Sh695 million.
The losses could have been worse than what the Auditor General uncovered, according to a report on the special audit by the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
The report, that was released in March this year, states that up to Sh23billion may have been misappropriated, and needs to be further investigated by the DCI and the Ethics and Anti- Corruption Commission(EACC). Of that sum, slightly over Sh10 billion is directly traceable to NYS.
In March last year, theEACC Chairman Phillip Kinusu, who has since left the commission, admitted that the commission had been wrong to clear the former Devolution CS. He told the National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee that the commission froze assets worth Sh500 million belonging to suspects in the Sh791.4 million NYS scandal.
The Asset Recovery Agency also went to court seeking to freeze assets connected to the scandal. What happens regarding recovered money and assets will be determined when court cases are concluded.
The Sh791.4m was illegally paid for the construction of the 3.5km Kibera road, yet there were no works included in the procurement plan for the 2014/2015 fiscal year.
The special audit noted that the money was fraudulently paid, between December 2014 and March 2015, to three suppliers whose site details were irregularly defined.
Consulting House, a private security and policy innovation think tank that was hired to restructure NYS refunded ‘excess payment’ of Sh11.8 million. But PAC noted that the refund was made by the company one day to their appearance before the Committee, pointing to outright mischief and dishonesty after feigning ignorance for more than a year.
Planning and Statistics Principal Secretary, Mr Saitoti Torome, while appearing before the PAC in July last yearrecalled having blocked payment of an invoice of about Sh78 million to Out of the Box Solutions because the company had been identified by the EACC as being investigated. There are media reports that the Sh791.4 million was recovered but they are attributed to Ms Waiguru herself.
The NYS scandal was not the first from which money stolen from the government has been frozen or recovered. The Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission recovered Sh140.2 million in the year 2014/2015. It also recovered Sh2.06 billion in 2013/2014, Sh567.4 million in 2012/2013 and Sh526.6 in 2011/2012.
Although Sh500 million may have been frozen, it is not necessarily recovered, and neither is it the entire Sh791 million. It is also not the first time money has been recovered.