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Another Ouko graft probe starts

The latest move came as Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Joseph Kinyua denied meeting members of the parliamentary Trade and Finance committee to hound out Auditor-General Edward Ouko.

Senior managers at the auditor-general’s office last week began recording statements as the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission started investigating another suspected irregular procurement at the public auditor’s office.

The anti-corruption agency also asked the officials to submit documents related to the award and payment of a Sh120 million contract for an audit of the Integrated Financial Management Information System (Ifmis).

In a statement by government spokesman Eric Kiraithe, Mr Kinyua denied meeting the MPs to plot Mr Ouko’s removal. Mr Ouko had accused the committee of meeting Mr Kinyua to discuss claims contained in a petition seeking his removal from office.

Correspondence seen by the Nation shows that the anti-graft body already held a meeting with Mr Ouko on March 6.

It is after this that the EACC director of investigations sent a letter to Deputy Auditor-General Agnes Mita asking her to arrange for submission of original copies of documents used in the award of the contract to Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology Enterprises Ltd.

Mr Mohamud also set out a schedule for the appearance of Ms Mita and her fellow deputy auditor-general, Mr Alex Rugera, senior managers in procurement, and 10 audit associates.

MEET OFFICERS

A total of 16 people are to be questioned on the matter. The anti-graft team asked them to meet officers handling the matter on various dates between Thursday, March 16, and Monday, March 27.

Among the documents the anti-graft team asked for are: a payment voucher for Sh49.4 million, letters or memos appointing staff at the office of the auditor-general to participate in the audit, and letters extending the duration of the project.

The anti-graft team also wants to see minutes of the negotiation committee’s meetings with the university firm, the final report tabled in Parliament and all communication between the auditor-general and the finance department on the availability of funds to meet the cost of extending the audit.

Coming weeks after the anti-graft group recommended the prosecution of Mr Ouko, the probe could be seen as a signal of the deteriorating relationship between the two organisations.

Two weeks ago, EACC deputy chief executive Michael Mubea told a committee considering a petition for removal of Mr Ouko that the auditor-general presided over the award of an irregular contract for supply of audit software at an inflated cost.

Although the Director of Public Prosecutions has since decided that the eight charges recommended against Mr Ouko hold no water, Mr Mubea said the anti-graft body had established those at fault in the software procurement, and that was the basis of their recommendations.

OVERRULED JUNIOR

The anti-graft team’s recommendations on Mr Ouko appeared to hinge on the fact that he overruled a junior and approved payment of Sh100 million to OSI Kenya on October 18, 2013. The payment was the continuation of an irregular procurement as a Local Purchase Order had been issued on August 14, 2013 before the contract was signed by the Office of the Auditor-General on October 22, 2013. Normally, the signing should happen before LPOs are issued.

In his response, Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko said none of the eight charges was supported by the evidence in the file submitted by the anti-graft team.

Mr Tobiko said that Mr Ouko was a victim of deception by juniors in his office, particularly then deputy auditor-general Stephen Kinuthia.

On the Ifmis review contract, Mr Mubea told the finance committee that investigations had so far established that the cost of the contract to the university’s enterprise firm was Sh120 million.

The firm then subcontracted a company called Dubai India to do the job at Sh100 million. He said the job started in 2014.

The contract to the university’s enterprise firm was not among matters in the petition to the National Assembly authored by advocate Emmanuel Mwagambo Mwagonah, but was brought up in the detailed memorandum attached to his response to a request that he provide documents to back up his petition.

The auditor-general has so far succeeded in halting what he terms as an unfair process by the House committee.

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