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How six employees stole Sh11m from Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital

By Michael Ollinga | Published Thu, February 8th 2018 at 00:00, Updated February 7th 2018 at 20:34 GMT +3
Divinah Chepkemboi, Emily Chebet and Perez Jeptekeny in court yesterday, when they were charged, alongside three others, with conspiring to defraud the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital of over 11 million. [Kevin Tunoi, Standard]

Six Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) workers stole 11 million after compromising the facility's financial system, a court has been told.

Charles Waweru, an information technology expert, said the workers manipulated the Health Information Management System (HMIS) before stealing the money collected from patients in medical fees.

Jonah Tunge, Reuben Kipkoech Lagat, Perez Kemboi, Gibert Kiprop, Divinah Chepkemboi and Emily Chebet are said to have stolen a total of Sh11,427,781 in 2014. 

The seventh accused person, Roseline Kemey, died.

"We installed the system that comprises medical records, financial management, supply chain, clinical modules and support components, and trained some staff to manage it. In 2015, the management asked me to audit the system after suspected anomalies in revenue collection,” said Mr Waweru, a director at Systems Partners.

System back-ups

He told Chief Magistrate Charles Obulutsa they were unable to access the system's back-ups because they had been deleted by the staff managing it.

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However, he said, the system showed a lot of discrepancies in the reception and surrendering of money.

“There was one case where a user, Divinah Chepkemboi, keyed in Sh602 yet the physical receipt indicated she had received Sh6,602. We presented a report indicating a discrepancy of over Sh11 million to the hospital,” said Waweru.

The hospital is the second largest referral facility after Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) in Nairobi.

Tunge, Lagat and Chepkemboi were employed as accountant, system administrator and revenue officer respectively. They are accused of conspiring to steal Sh6,436,132 between May 30 and December 19, 2014.

Tunge, Lagat and the late Kemey were also accused of conspiring to steal Sh4,281,367 between June 1 and November 1, 2014. In addition, Tunge, Lagat and Chebet were accused of stealing Sh291,325 on different dates between June 2, 2014, and December 30, 2014.

On another count, Tunge, Lagat and Kemboi are accused of defrauding the hospital of Sh214,769 between August 18, 2014, and November 7, 2014. Kiprop was charged with stealing Sh204,188 between May 30 and December 30, 2014.

Waweru dismissed the argument by defence lawyers Charles Nyamweya and Elijah Momanyi that the HMIS his company installed at the hospital was not secure. The lawyers said the system had many loopholes that allowed for manipulation by different users and even hackers.

Waweru told the court MTRH contracted his organisation after a competitive process in 2012 at a cost of Sh18 million. He said the system had worked well at KNH.

Security features

“The system had security and monitoring features and was manipulated by individuals that had rights of access, including the administrator. It made numerous reports on mismatches between money received and amounts keyed in between May 2014 and January 2015 but the staff in charge never raised the alarm.”

He said the administrators misused the system and flouted password policies to facilitate the alleged theft.

But it appeared Waweru's firm did not develop the system sold to MTRH as he could not produce a registration certificate. He said he only owned the system's source code after unsuccessfully trying to register it in 2016.

“The witness is defending a well-scripted thesis to incriminate my clients. It is clear the system had neither been fully installed nor handed over to the hospital. In this case, none of the two organisations can take responsibility. Our audit indicates the system is a mongrel and prone to hacking,” said Mr Nyamweya.

Mr Momanyi further questioned the hospital’s reluctance to address the errors that came up in the system as early as May 2014, only responding in December. He claimed the contractor had been paid upwards of Sh80 million for the system, which they perceived as weak and prone to hacking.

Francis Kimaiyo, acting MTRH chief accountant, said in December 2014, he was asked to help discharge a patient after it emerged the money the patient had paid did not reflect in the system.

The suspects were charged on April 9, 2015, and are out on a bond of Sh2 million each. The hearing resumes today.

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