How former EACC Finance Director Aided Theft of Ksh 100 million

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By Kenya Confidential Corruption Investigations Editor, Nairobi – July 12, 2019

It is shocking that a woman, who facilitated the theft of close to Ksh 100 million from the Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) later got a job with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) from where she probably intended to frustrate any investigation by the corruption agency into KeRRA theft.

It also confirms how rotten the EACC itself could be painted if used to loot billions of shillings in public coffers during the purchase of it so-called Integrity Centre – a matter that should be investigated to the bitter end and culprits brought to book. The Parliamentary current probe should be thorough and actionable.

Former Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission finance director Jennifer Kimani is now under investigation over fraudulent payments of Ksh 89.5 million that she authorised and transacted through her G-mail address and computer while working for the Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA). The payments were made in 2016 to two firms that had not done any business with the rural roads agency.

Those criminal payments demonstrate public officers’ greed that supersedes public good at top echelons. The EACC should delve into;

Those criminal payments demonstrate public officers’ greed that supersedes public good at top echelons. The EACC should delve into; 

  1. Any earlier deals Ms Kimani and her collaborator had facilitated at KeRRA.
  2. If she conducted herself in similar criminal conduct at EACC the long year she worked there.
  3. If she was involved in similar thefts earlier in her career elsewhere.
  4. How the loot was shared.

Ms Kimani’s contract with the EACC was not renewed when it lapsed on June 30 this year. Before joining the EACC as finance and planning director, she was a finance manager at KeRRA. The EACC started the investigations when Ms Kimani was still a director.

However, the agency has confirmed that the investigations were behind the decision not to renew Ms Kimani’s contract. The cash embezzled from KeRRA was meant for the roads agency’s regional offices but instead ended up in private hands of greedy corrupt, thanks to Jennifer.

KeRRA’s head office generated payment vouchers and filled in money transfer forms from its KCB account. Kenya rural populations suffer great denial of infrastructural development through theft of public funds by those entrusted with the responsibility of money.

The physical payment vouchers and forms used for the money transfer from one bank to another all indicate accounts operated by KeRRA’s regional offices. But when the vouchers were uploaded to the agency’s disbursement system, the bank’s account numbers had been changed. At a glance internal audit would reveal that the money was paid to KeRRA regional offices accounts.

The doctored documents were uploaded to Qpay, an online finance management system used by government institutions for authorising such payments, by a KeRRA employee identified as Benson Ronoh. But all the files he uploaded had the wrong bank account numbers – a deliberate diversion of the cash.

Laptops owned by Ms Kimani, then KeRRA finance general manager Peter Rutto and accountant Dan Manyasi were seized and given to forensic experts to comb for evidence upon which detectives found that the email sent to KCB instructing it to pay Cowford General Contractors and Countrywide Chemfert Enterprises was from Ms Kimani’s Gmail address, not her office account.

The detectives also found out that doctored documents originated from Ms Kimani’s computer. The cash was wired to Cowford and Countrywide Chemfert on the strength of the altered soft copy forms from Ms Kimani’s computer. This confirms the fact that civil servants drive corruption.

Investigations revealed that Cowford is owned by businessman Stephen Kingara Ndungu and his sister, Beatrice Ngendo Ndungu. Ndungu also owns Countrywide Chemfert, alongside his wife Eunice Wangeci Nyawira. Peter Njubi Wanja is listed as the firm’s authorised agent to transact over the counter withdrawals and statement collection.

Ms Kimani should be charged along with her conspirators and investigated further to reveal if she engaged in similar criminal activities at the EACC as Finance Director. Jennifer betrayed herself through her movie-star lifestyle with designer fashion dressing and gaiety mannerism.

Both firms operate accounts at Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), where the money was deposited. Like in the National Youth Service financial fraudulent transactions, the Central Bank should swiftly move in and penalize KCB for aiding in fraudulent and money laundering transactions. Cowford and Countrywide Chemfert were paid through eight vouchers that resembles the shady Ksh 11 billion National Youth Service (NYS) scandals.

The KeRRA thieves were replaying the NYS heist in which genuine suppliers were overlooked, as their payment vouchers were duplicated and their dues wired to companies that had not done any business with the institution. Similarly, many bona fide KeRRA contractors are among many   firms whose pending bills are yet to be paid by County Governments.

The EACC current leadership under Archbishop (Rt) Eliud Webukhala and former seasoned deputy in the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) Twalib Mbarak should probe into the past key officers and their current lifestyles. Some are living in opulent far unsupported by their salaries and benefits. Only then will Kenyans take EACC as a serious anti-corruption institution. Ms Kimani should open the new chapter and her operations at EACC should also be investigated.

The EACC today has the best-intentioned leaders at the helm with Webukhala as former head of Anglican Church of Kenya whose current Archbishop  Jackson ole Sapit is leading the religious onslaught on Corruption and long-term no-nonsense military hand Mbarak as its director.

Mbarak: EACC hawk-eye director

Born in Kilifi, Mbarak  54-year-old joined Kamuzu Military College, Malawi, as an army officer cadet in 1984. He served as a platoon commander of Kenya Rifles from 1985-88 and security office (military protective security) from 1987-91, before taking up a one-year job on a UN military observer mission for Western Sahara referendum. Between 1993 and 1996, he served as a personal assistant to the director of military intelligence, before moving on to the Horn of Africa Military Intelligence Corps.

Mbarak joined the National Security Intelligence Service as the head of research and analysis external division in 1990. At NIS, he also served as head of protective security, head of security analysis and production division and principal officer, as well as head of NIS academy research and development department.

The EACC boss is credited with training and mentoring some of the top spies in the country. He left the NIS in 2006 and joined EACC’s precursor — the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission — as principal officer in the Under-Cover Investigations Unit where he served until 2010.

Footnote:

No one is born CORRUPT, YOU CHOOSE and suffer the consequences.