Man charged with hacking KRA and causing Sh4b loss

Hacker breaching computer security PHOTO:COURTESY

A 28-year-old man has been charged with hacking Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) systems and causing the loss of about Sh4 billion.

Alex Mutungi Mutuku did not plead to the charge because cybercrime officers asked that he be detained to give them more time to conduct their investigations and arrest other suspects.

Investigations indicate that Mutuku's operation had connections to a deep-rooted syndicate with connections outside the country.

According to State Prosecutor Edwin Okello, the hackers have high tech equipment and software that have enabled them to steal from corporations, the latest of which was the Kenya Revenue Authority, where the police managed to track the syndicate after it fraudulently acquired almost Sh4 billion.

"It is a case of remote control hacking where the suspects operate smoothly with their machines and the next minute you realise you have no money in your account. The information we have is just a tip of the iceberg. The racket is big and involves people outside the country," said Mr Okello.

Mr Mutuku is accused of causing the loss of Sh3, 985,663,858 from KRA by interfering with the institution's computer systems between March 2015 and March 2017.

Okello pleaded with the magistrate to allow detectives to detain the suspect for 40 days, arguing that he is a flight risk and has been visiting several countries, to where he is likely to escape if released on bail.

"His passport shows that he is a person who is able to walk in and out of Tanzania at will and has been visiting Uganda, Burundi, and India. He is a frequent traveller outside the country, which makes him likely to abscond court if released on bail," said Okello.

But Mutuku's lawyer, Tacey Makori, objected to her client's continued detention, arguing that Mutuku had already spent 14 days in police custody and should be released.

She claimed that the Sh4 billion he was alleged to have stolen was fictitious and only meant to hoodwink the public.

Chief magistrate Francis Andayi ordered Mutuku to be detained until March 28.