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Police probes Sh160m theft at ICT Authority

Detectives are investigating a well-orchestrated theft of more than Sh160 million at the ICT Authority.

The money was siphoned out of the authority between January 24 and July 6 in a scheme involving at least four senior managers and two banks.

An internal audit report by Manager-Internal Audit and Risk Patrick Machimbo Masika details how the heist was executed.

“Sh78,091,231 was withdrawn in cash from the authority’s bank account without supporting documents. The cash withdrawals were split in tranches of less than Sh500,000 to avoid the acting CEO’s approval,” states the August 1 report, adding that the money was said to be for project inspection and field visits.

When the audit manager interviewed the projects’ managers, however, they denied knowledge of the events, for which cash was paid out to individuals.

GRAND THEFT

On Tuesday, ICT Principal Secretary Victor Kyalo said Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) detectives and Assets Recovery Agency officers had been called in to pursue the architects of the grand theft. In a statement, he also said banks had been engaged to assist in the investigations, which he said was at advance stage.

“We are determined to get to the bottom of this matter and those found culpable will face the full force of the law, including full recovery of all amounts to the last coin,” said Mr Kyalo.

The PS however assured development partners that resources entrusted to the government will be accounted for fully.

The audit report shows Sh77,023,581 was cashed from account number 3000850016 for government-funded projects from January 1 to July 6, 2017 while Sh995,650 was withdrawn from account 3000850024, for the Presidential Digital Talent Project (PDTP), in cash on January 10.

BANK ACCOUNTS

A total of Sh20,801,106 was transferred to the four officers’ bank accounts without supporting documents from January 24 to July 6 for “projects and field visits”.

Some Sh4,485,610 was paid into a director’s account between January 24 and April 20 while Sh5,458,061 was deposited into an officer’s account between January 24 and May 31 as Sh5,441,210 was paid to an accountant between January 24 and May 31 and Sh5,416,225 given to a cashier between January 24 and May 31.

“Sh61,328,253 was paid to an account at a local bank under 21 different account names between February 9 and July 6,” the auditors reported, saying the names were of existing saving and credit cooperative societies but the account number does not belong to any of the saccos.

DEDUCTIONS

“The payments are indicated as deductions but such deductions were not found in the ICT authority’s payrolls,” said the auditors, adding that the fraudulent activities go back to 2015/2016 financial year.

The auditors disputed the “project inspection” reason for payments, saying direct payment to a cashier for six months was Sh5,416,225 yet per diem averages about Sh10,000 per night.

“This will translate to 541 nights out of office, which is not possible in six months,” the auditors said, while recommending that investigating agencies of government carry out further investigations.

The audit was initiated by the acting chief executive officer, Mr Robert Mugo, on July 19.

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