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How county clerk banked Sh315m in Kabura-style scam

Lylian Wafula Namukhasi with her husband, Bukusu South MCA David Fwaro.

Was she a front or the mastermind of Bungoma’s biggest heist? That’s the question behind Namukhasi’s fat accounts

Lylian Wafula Namukhasi had a very busy Wednesday three years ago when she made several trips to bank and withdraw more than Sh20 million in the infamous Kabura-style.

On that day in November 2014, she twice withdrew and later deposited the money into her local bank account in Bungoma town.

Many things were unusual about her 45 more deposits worth Sh315 million from Bungoma County that are now at the centre of an investigation by the Senate.

Her suspect transactions dwarf the National Youth Service (NYS) scam’s chief suspect Josephine Kabura, given that activity on her account went undetected for more than three years.

Criminal proceedings

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It was not until last week that a report on the probe by the Senate on Bungoma County that the shocking events were captured.

Before the March 4, 2013 General Election, Namukhasi’s bank account was that of an ordinary woman with running balances almost always Sh1,000. She, however, became an overnight millionaire, after she separated from her former husband and father of her two children and married a Member of the County Assembly.

Our investigations paint a picture of a family living larger than life in a palatial home in Bungoma town with a fleet of cars to boot. Among the sports utility vehicles is a black Nissan Xtrail.

People who interact with her say she is expecting her third child, possibly from the man in her life, David Wekesa Fwaro. Mr Fwaro was widowed in July 2015.

The Senate has recommended further investigation of Namukhasi, Bungoma Governor Kenneth Lusaka and the county treasurer over the scandal.

Namukhasi is a junior official in the county working as a collections clerk, according to people who know her.

“We recommend that the DPP and the EACC investigates transactions between Bungoma County and Ms Lilian Wafula Namukhasi in a local bank,  Bungoma Branch…,” Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow said in his report following the probe. And “…to immediately institute and undertake criminal proceedings against Governor (Lusaka)…”

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Mr Kerrow is the chairman of the senate oversight committee on Finance, Commerce and Budget, whose other members include Bungoma’s Moses Wetang’ula.

It is unclear whether the investigating and prosecuting agencies have taken up the matter since the report was tabled on April 5. The bank could also be censured for enabling the suspect transactions, considering that the amounts involved are not ordinary for an account that was initially subdued.

In the comparable case of Ms Kabura, several banks were fined for not reporting the suspect transactions where over Sh791 million was stolen from the NYS. Forged delivery documents were used to claim the payments from the department meant to tackle youth unemployment, stirring a national outrage.

Anne Waiguru was forced to resign from her Cabinet portfolio following the theft perpetrated by Kabura and aided by senior officials in her ministry.

It is specifically baffling how Namukhasi could withdraw the huge amounts, and on several times in a single day without raising the red flag for the bank officials. It all started at the end of January 2014 when Namukhasi received Sh800,000 in her account when her account had only Sh734.50 as balance. It was a wire transfer, according to the bank statements produced by the bank to the Senate. Until just one week before, her withdrawals were between  Sh500 and Sh1,000.

The only other significant deposit was from a micro lender called Opportunity Kenya worth Sh159,145, which could as well have been a loan. That was on May 2013.

And then the floodgates were opened and money started pouring in. On the last day of the 2013/14 financial year, June 30, Bungoma County wired Sh20 million to Namukhasi’s account before transferring another Sh1.8 million. These were the largest transactions ever made to the account. While it has not been confirmed whether the specific payments were irregular, the timing could suggests an ulterior motive as it is the point where the government closes its books of account, at midnight of June 30.

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Disciplinary action

Senators criticised Lusaka’s administration for breach of the Constitution, the procurement and financial laws that saw the county incur Sh95million in debt in the 2014/15 financial year – more than the amount paid to Namukhasi.

A resident petitioned the Senate over the Bungoma County administration over the use of Sh31 billion allocated to it by the National government since 2013. Lusaka, in his response, explained, “The financial regulations for counties states that funds disbursed for imprest shall not be kept in an official bank account but in a separate or personal account operated by the imprest holder or in a form of cash under safe.”

Lusaka maintained that due process was followed and all documents were available for verification.

In a raft of recommendations made, the lawmakers also want disciplinary action taken against Wafula Simiyu, Evans Fwamba and Deputy Governor Hillary Chongwony for failing to surrender Sh4.2 million imprest within the stipulated timelines.

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