ICT Authority was created under the Ministry of Information Communication and Technology in 2013 and was tasked with managing the ICT functions of Government with the aim of achieving the President’s agenda of a digitalized Kenya. It has been doing its duties well until a recent audit uncovered an underlying fraud that has been crippling the Authority for over 6 months.
How much was stolen
According to a report by Patrick Masika, the Auditor who investigated the matter, a group of 4 top officials at the Authority have siphoned KSh 160 million most of which was earmarked for the Presidential Digital Talent programme. The programme was targeting 400 engineers and ICT graduates with internship opportunities.
How they did it
Masika reported that money was moved in amounts less than 500,000 which was the threshold that would not require approval by the CEO. Most transactions ranged between KSh 483,000 to KSh 499,650. The money was withdrawn from the authority’s CITI bank account using falsified documents and was deposited to a single personal account. The money was disguised as deductions of personal savings using the names of 21 known Sacco societies.
The report, however, stated that “The 21 names using the same account number are the names of existing Sacco societies but the account number does not belong to the Saccos.”
The report also added that such an arrangement would have required the bank to be involved in the fraud. “Collusion with banks is needed for money to be wired to the same account number under different names” said the auditor.
In addition, a total of KSh 20 million was paid to the 4 executives’ personal accounts as per diem allowances (that is, out-of-office allowances). The report indicated that the amount was equal to 541 days out of office, a number that is impossible given the fraud ran for about 6 months (around 180 days). However, Masika noted that the fraud could have been running longer that the 6 months audited, between January of this year and July 19th 2017. In fact, some publications indicated that the scheme might have started back in 2015 running into up to 10 billion shillings. “Shoddy” school laptop programmes have been cited as one of the avenues used to steal the money.
Victor Kyalo ICT Principal Authority has already suspended the 4 suspected officials to pave way for investigations to take place. Their names are Felix Ongaga (Director Corporate Services), Daniel Ouma (Head of Finance), Peter Mwangi (Accountant) and Antony Mwangi (Cashier). The government has reported that their assets have already been confiscated in a bid to recover the stolen money. The Assets Recovery Unit in conjunction with the CID are the ones in charge of the investigation.
Robert Mugo, the CEO ICT Authority released a statement assuring Kenyans that the officials involved will be dealt with, in accordance with the law, in case found guilty.