Stage set for the prosecution of NYS scam masterminds

Stage set for the prosecution of NYS scam masterminds

- in Investigations, News
From left: Former Youth CS and current CS for Health Sicily Kariuki, Youth Affairs Principal Secretary Lilian Mbogo and Director General Richard Ndubai

Over eighteen individuals suspected to have either planned or aided massive plunder and looting of over Sh9billion through fictitious supplies and manipulation of Ifmis system at National Youth Service were yesterday grilled setting stage for their prosecution if found culpable

Those questioned include directors of firms adversely mentioned as beneficiaries of fraudulent payments, procurement officers, auditors, accountantand finance officers from the troubled institution

They were grilled by a team of detectives attached to Economic and Commercial Crimes Unit, Financial Investigations Unit and the Serious Crimes Unit.

“This is a criminal investigation and therefore evidence cannot be discussed. It can only be presented in court not to water down the cases. So far, we anticipate to complete recording statement by tomorrow (today) evening.” A senior detective privy with the probe said. 

Suppliers were required to present letters of award, Local Purchasing Orders, delivery notes and invoices for work done.

Some of those who recorded statements yesterday were Stephen Mwenda, Head of Supply Chain at NYS and his deputy EliudKoome.

Mwenda was appointed as substantive head of procurement late 2017 after Koome served in an acting capacity.

The scam is said to have been committed for the last two years.

A correspondence from the DCI reference number CID/IB/SEC/4/4/1/VOL.LIX/36 addressed to head of finance ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs demanded that all processed original vouchers both paid and unpaid for the period between January, 1, 2014 to April, 5, 2018 be availed immediately.

Further, the multi-agency investigations team comprising of DCI George Kinoti’s officers and those drawn from Director of Public Prosecutions recommended by DPP Noordin Haji also seek to seize all tender committee minutes both by the Ministerial Tender Committee and departmental committee minutes for the period January, 1 2011 to date. 

The investigation files will then be forwarded to DPP’s office for action and consequent prosecution. 

“Nominate an officer who is conversant with the above to do a written statement.” The letter said in part. 

Investigators have also narrowed down their probe to alleged fake vouchers which were allegedly processed in February this year ostensibly to make fictitious payments but were said to have been destroyed after the plot leaked prompting silent reshuffle of junior officers within procurement, accounts and finances departments. 

For instance, senior procurement officers could not explain how a tender floated in August 2017 had all 90 items collapsed in a single bid. 

According to insiders, hardest hit supplies are food rations, equipment, uniforms, towels, petroleum and fresh foodstuffs and allegations of double payments through manipulation of the Integrated Financial Management System (Ifmis). 

The Financial Reporting Center (FRC), Banking Fraud Investigations Unit (BFIU) and the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) officers are jointly tracing financial flows but the beneficiaries are said to have zero balances in their accounts.

One of the banks not in the list of the targeted six is said to have wired back the money advanced from NYS account late December last year due to lack of supporting documents to justify the payout. 

Among the companies being investigated include Firstling Supplies Limited and Flagstone Merchants both owned similar directors having received Sh1.4billion and Sh1.04billion respectively. 

Others include: Excella Supplies services Company Limited (Sh282125, 250), Techbiz Limited (Sh767,699646) , Era two Thousands Limited Sh273,993,627), First Edge Limited (Sh261,103,425), Sakata Limited (Sh246, 125, 460) and Fastlane Freight Forwarders Limited (Sh220, 732, 633) among others. 

It is not clear how payments were made for 2017 and 2018 supplies despite existence of previous pending bills having not been settled for the last four years. 

Detectives are probing possible collusion between company directors, at least six bank managers, senior officials from Youth Ministry and the national Treasury over possible collusion of real time wiring of the money and mass withdrawals of tens of millions in dollars. 

Officials from the accounts, procurement and finance were sent on a compulsory leave by Public Service Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia a day after Youth Affairs Principal Secretary Lilian Mbogo and Director General Richard Ndubai were forced out to pave way for investigations. 

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