DCI to probe land rates officers over Sh23.5m fraud at City Hall

Governor Mike Sonko has now written to the Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti urging him to probe fraud and financial malpractice at City Hall’s land rates department.

The city boss also wants other departments such as ICT, Finance and revenue and debt collection departments probed. They are alleged to be part of a multifaceted syndicate that is out to fleece the county.

In a letter seen by The Standard, Sonko says that officials from the rates department had colluded with a land owner who owed the county Sh23.5 million, to have the figure reduced downwards to Sh327, 633.

The plot number 209/10337 is located in industrial area and owned by Alexander Munene Tutuma and Mukua Tutuma.

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“I wish to draw your attention to information received by my office on fraud, embezzlement of funds and conspiracy to defeat justice and request your kind and urgent assistance in investigating and take necessary action against the persons involved,” Sonko said through the letter.

The Governor also explained that the officers in charge of the department had interfered with payment systems in a bid to steal from unsuspecting members of the public.

"As at 3rd January 2019 the figures were changed from Sh23, 595,544 to Sh327, 633 without any explanation to the county," read the letter dated March 27.

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Sonko further stated that he had received reports that some officers in the department were demanding for kickbacks from business and property owners with huge land rates arears in order to either permanently delete their accounts or reduce the amount payable.

"The county is losing millions because of this collusion between cartels and the rogue city officials. The officers are fond of asking for bribes to alter the bills owed to city hall, consequently leading to the county government making huge loses," he said.

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“I am urging the DCI to move with speed and arrest the culprits involved, so that it acts as a lesson to all those who think they can steal from the public and get away scot free. We also want the DCI to ensure that city hall recovers all the money lost through corrupt under dealings,” added the Governor.

Sonko said it is for this reason that he made a decision to disburse county bursary funds electronically to curb corruption.

"We have to curb this menace in bursary disbursement. No one will sell cheques of the poor children again, we have improved and sealed all the loopholes," he observed.

This comes against the backdrop of a revelation that City hall is owed Sh120 billion in rates by the Government and private entities in the capital.

Head of rates department, Albert Okiro who had appeared before a budget committee stated that Government institutions such as Parliament, Department of Defence (DOD), Parliamentary Service Commission, Central Police , National Treasury, Vigilance House , KICC and other affiliated agencies were the biggest defaulters in land rates thus an impediment to service delivery.

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In the 2017/18 financial year city hall was only able to collect Sh1.8 billion in land rates against a target of Sh5.5 billion. It was also revealed that it had so far collected Sh1.1 billion for the current financial year against a target of Sh3.6 billion.

Sh2.6 billion was collected in the 2013/14 year, Sh2.7 billion in the 2014/15 year, Sh3.2 billion in the 2015/16 year and Sh2.6 billion in the 2016/17 financial year.

Mr. Okiro however blamed challenges such as lack of title deeds for property, an outdated valuation system and long legal processes, for the inefficient collection of land rates.

According to a geospatial report by the National Government, only 150,000 properties pay land rates out of more than 1.5 million property owners in Nairobi.

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Governor Mike SonkoCity Hall land rates departmentFraud allegations