Kilifi County loses Sh51 million because ‘passwords got hacked’

By CHARLES LWANGA
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KDRTV-The amount that was illegally transferred from Kilifi County to private bank accounts is Sh51 million, not Sh45 million as earlier reported, senior county officers have said.

County Chief Finance Officer Ben Kai, Senior Accountant (Health) Jacob Konde and County Secretary Owen Baya told a special committee of the county assembly investigating the theft that a report has revealed that Sh51,209,775 is missing.

The officers, accompanied by Health Executive Rachael Musyoki, Chief Health Officer Timothy Malingi among others, on Friday appeared before the assembly’s Oversight Committee, chaired by Speaker Jimmy Kahindi.

COMMITTEE IN SHOCK

The new revelation left the committee in shock, with some MCAs saying the steady increase in the amount of missing funds is an indication that more money may be missing from the county coffers.

“When we first summoned the officers named in the scandal before us, the money that was said to have been lost was Sh30 million. Now the amount has shot up from Sh45 million to Sh51 million,’’ said Magarini MCA Elina Mbaru.

She was supported by Kibarani MCA Getrude Mbeyu, who dismissed the county secretary’s plea for the 10 suspended officers to be given time to prepare themselves for interrogation.

“It is taxpayers’ money that got lost and if we adjourn the sitting, next time when they come here the missing money might have risen to Sh60 million,” she added.

PASSWORDS

Mr Baya had told the committee that 10 county officers whose passwords were used to transfer funds through the Integrated Financial Management and Information System (Ifmis) and internet banking were suspended.

They are Chief Officer Health Timothy Malingi, Mr Paul Mwanzo (Accountant, Treasury), Mr Jacob Konde (Accountant, Health), Mr John Kalume (Accoutant, Finance) and Ms Josephine Muramba (Accountant, Education)

Others are Ms Vivian Nzai (Accountant, Water), Mr Dickson Tembo (Clerical Officer, Agriculture), Mr Lenox Mwadzoya (Inspector, Roads), Mr Johnson Nyamawi (Accountant, Finance) and Ms Lilian Hariri (Clerical Officer, Health.)

Mr Baya, who absolved Ms  Musyoki from the fraud blame, said they had written a letter to Ifmis administrators to cancel all the passwords and transactions.

NO HACKING

However, he suggested that banks in Nairobi, Ifmis and county officers might have collaborated to swindle the county government of Sh51 million, since a letter from Ifmis has indicated that no hacking took place.

The committee heard that the money was  fraudulently wired to Makegra Supplies, Zohali Supplies, Kilingi Investment, Leadership Edge Associates and Daima One Enterprises.

“We managed to reverse Sh8 million only after alerting the Central Bank of Kenya over the fraud, and the Ifmis department, EACC, CID and Anti-Bank Fraud Unit of the Central Bank of Kenya have begun investigation,” said Mr Baya.

NO FAITH IN IFMIS

Some of the suspended officers said they had no trust in Ifmis since the funds still went missing after their passwords were withdrawn.

Mr Kalume said he suspected that somebody in Nairobi might have hacked the system and processed the transactions to transfer the funds.

Ms Hariri also said she has no faith in Ifmis administrators who usually reset their passwords when it is blocked.

Deputy Speaker Teddy Mwambire also suggested whether they could be forced to bring bank and Treasury CCTV footage to clear the air on allegations that Mr Kai has been working at night.

INTERNET TRANSFERS

“According to the report, most transactions involving internet bank transfers were made in the wee hours of the night,” he said, adding that “this can be proved by the help of CCTV footage.”

The chief officer of finance was put to task over the possession of Ifmis modems, which can be used to make money transactions even outside Kilifi County.

The Speaker accused Mr Kai of dodging straight questions that could assist to resolve the mystery of the Sh51 million scandal, while Mr Baya, the Speaker said, acted like an advocate defending county officers on interrogation.

The grilling slightly took a different turn after Mr Baya claimed that one of the companies alleged to have received the funds forged his signature to process a bank loan in the county government’s name.

FLATS BOOM

Another MCA said the speed at which junior officers in the county are becoming rich and building flats is alarming and an indication that money is being siphoned out of the county coffers.

Shella MCA Kadenge Mwathethe also questioned why no arrest had been made so far yet the banks, companies and people suspected to be behind the scam are well known.

The Speaker adjourned the session to Tuesday next week, when the suspended officers will appear before the committee for interrogation.

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