Court freezes bank accounts in ICT agency fraud case

The High Court has allowed an application by the Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) to freeze bank accounts belonging to four former managers of a State corporation.

The four - Felix Ongaga, Peter Mwangi, Daniel Ouma and Anthony Nyaga - were senior executives at the ICT Authority.

According to a notice in the the Kenya Gazette, Justice Hedwig Ong’undi has ruled that money amounting to Sh6.5 million held in various banks be put on hold, with none of the managers or their agents allowed to make transactions through them.

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“In the matter seeking preservation orders for Sh6,488,736.54 held in the respondents’ various bank accounts, which funds were stolen from Information and Communication Technology Authority, I issue the orders prohibiting the respondents or their agents or representative from transacting, transferring or dealing in any manner with the funds held in those accounts,” said the judge.

The ruling, which was based on the Anti-Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act, will now pave way for the ARA to close in on the accused alleged to have colluded with banks to fraudulently obtain the funds from the authority.

The alleged fraud was discovered by one of the agency’s auditors, Patrick Masika, who investigated the theft.

According to Mr Masika’s audit report, the looting was made through withdrawals all targeted to be below Sh500,000 so as to circumvent approval from the chief executive.

According to the audit report, a number of withdrawals were made from the agency’s bank accounts using forged documents that showed transfers made to the same private bank accounts but bearing different names.

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The audit also found that most of the money had been budgeted for internship opportunities for university students and ICT graduates under the Presidential Digital Talent Programme.

One of the banks is alleged to have facilitated the theft by accepting payments to a single account that had 21 different names for the various transactions.

Asset Recovery AgencyARAICT AuthorityHigh Court