Some of the companies that are under investigation over the possible loss of Sh9 billion at the National Youth Service (NYS) have had previous controversial dealings with the outfit — and have no Internet footprint.
While they deal in hundreds of millions of shillings, only one of the companies under investigation has a website but, still, it does not list its management.
The others, like Firstling Supplies Limited and Flagstone Merchants – the two firms that walked away with more than Sh1 billion each in the latest NYS scandal – remain largely anonymous operations.
And, surprisingly, companies flagged by the Auditor-General and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) in the past for possible fraud are still doing business with the government.
Among them is Fastlane Freight Forwarders, which had its accounts frozen by the High Court in the wake of “reasonable suspicion” that it had received Sh209 million from NYS as reimbursement for clearing and forwarding costs for equipment, even though there was no proof that the services had been rendered.
The court ruled that the ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs had not tendered for the provision of such services during the 2015-2016 financial year, and no contract between the ministry and (Fastlane) had been provided as a basis for the payment.
In the current scandal, Fastlane is said to have been paid Sh221 million.
Firstling Supplies Limited, which received Sh1.48 billion, was also cited in a report by the Auditor-General in 2012, meaning it has been doing business with government bodies for years.
The directors of the company based at Ukulima Co-operative House are James Thuita Nderitu and Yvonne Wanjiku Ngugi.
The firm is also related to Bosqure Systems Limited, which was paid Sh59 million. The latter has been doing business with some county governments.
Although Mr Nderitu’s contact is listed in tender documents, a man who answered the phone yesterday claimed we had dialled the wrong number and denied knowledge of the two companies, which work closely with Flagstone Merchants, another beneficiary of the questionable NYS transactions.
On LinkedIn, a Mr Edward Mwangi is listed as the owner of Flagstone, but when we called, the woman who answered the phone said she did not know anyone by that name.
Mombasa-based Techbiz Limited, which was ranked 72 on the Business Daily’s Top 100 list in 2009, is listed as having received Sh767 million.
On his Facebook page and Twitter handle, Mr Faraj Mansur claims to be the co-founder of the company.
“We have not been transacting with NYS,” a woman who only identified herself as Swabrina, and who we were told is the company’s chief accountant, said after “consulting the owner”.
Ms Eunice Ngeene of Excella Limited, which is shown to have been paid Sh282 million, also denied doing business with the NYS before dismissing our enquiry.
“Our business has never worked there. And, even if it has, so what? What is the problem? Are you CID?” she posed.
Emaki Ventures, which received Sh39.3 million, is on the list of suppliers who sold cleaning materials to the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) in the 2014-2015 financial year.
Information on its business premises is not listed online, but that of Ensa K Ltd is available, complete with a landline and mobile telephone number.
In the Ministry of Transport portal, its address is listed as Gill House in Nairobi, but in the Nairobi County business portal, it is listed as ‘Nairobi CBD, Tom Mboya Street’.
Ensa, which received Sh1.9 million, was prequalified to supply the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure as a youth-owned company.
On LinkedIn, Ms Esther Ototo is listed as one of its directors.
Under the Uhuru Kenyatta administration, companies owned by youth, women and people with disabilities are offered preferential treatment to supply 30 per cent of government tenders.
Ensa was contracted to supply office equipment, stationery and related items.
It received the third lowest payment from NYS between September 2016 and August 2017.
Edmand Enterprises had the lowest payment (Sh140,000) followed by Mammery Solutions (Sh22,730).
Firstling Supplies Ltd received the highest payment, at Sh1.48 billion, followed by Flagstone Merchants, which received Sh1.03 billion.
An online directory, SoftKenya, gives Firstling Supplies Ltd’s address as Ukulima Co-operative House on Haile Selassie Avenue.
Interestingly, Bosqure Business Systems Ltd is listed on Firstling’s Facebook page, which is inactive and has only one ‘Like’.
Bosqure received Sh59.3 million from NYS. Between 2014 and 2016.
At the time, Firstling was listed as a prequalified supplier of tyres to the government, but documents at the World Bank also show that it bid to supply fencing materials to Moi International Airport as part of the northern corridor project in 2004.
Its offer was rejected and the tender, worth Sh37.4 million, awarded to Westcon Contractors Limited.
On LinkedIn, Edward Mwangi claims to be the “owner” of Firstling.