Fraud: How ICT Authority managers colluded with banks to steal Sh160m in six months

Information and Communication Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru. The ICT Authority falls under his docket.

NAIROBI, KENYA: Top managers at the Information Communication and Technology Authority colluded with banks to steal more than Sh160 million in only six months, a damning audit has confirmed.

The five senior managers are mentioned as part of the ring that defrauded the agency that falls under the Ministry of Information.

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It is claimed that they were directly involved in the fraudulent cash transfers, which were mostly masked as employee deductions.

Patrick Masika, the auditor who investigated the theft, found widespread looting perpetrated by four senior officials. All the withdrawals were just below Sh500,000, the threshold that requires approval of the chief executive, Mr Masika reports.

Hundreds of withdrawals were made from the authority's bank accounts using falsified documents that showed transfers made to the same private bank accounts but bearing different names.

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Most of the stolen money had been budgeted for internship opportunities targeting 400 engineering and ICT graduates under the Presidential Digital Talent Programme.

SEE ALSO :Clerk in fraud trial barred from office

One of the banks could find itself in trouble for facilitating the theft by accepting payments to a single account that had 21 different names for the various transactions.

In one of the payments, the bank account bore the name of employees' savings society to conceal the fraud and ensure that the transactions passed as if they were staff deductions.

"Collusion with banks is needed for money to be wired to the same account number under different names," the auditor said in the report.

The use of sacco societies to send money to a single bank account was indication of a well-planned scam that would take a long time to be detected.

Masika expressed fears that the theft could have happened for a lot longer, suggesting that the loss to the taxpayers could  be much larger.

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The four managers mentioned collectively paid into their personal bank accounts more than Sh20 million, which was booked as per diem allowances.

But the auditor said the amounts were too high to have been for out-of-office allowances for at least 541 days.

"This will translate into 541 nights out of office, which is not possible in six months," the auditor said.

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