Ouko queries Sh592m legal costs at Sonko's City Hall

Officials from the legal department are on the spot over Sh592.4 million paid out in legal fees yet the county government had not budgeted for this.

According to Auditor General Edward Ouko, the department paid Sh645.2 million to 12 law firms in the 2016/17 financial year. Yet, only Sh105 million had been allocated in the budget.

The audit also revealed that the money was spent outside the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS), a financial system used to foster accountability.

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A county Public Accounts Committee (PAC) last Thursday pushed acting County Attorney David Moseko, and his finance counterpart Stephen Mutua, to shed more light on how the money was spent.

“We want to know why the issue of payment of irregular legal costs has been a recurring one for the past three financial years,” said PAC chairman Wilfred Odalo.

“It seems that this is a conduit through which some people siphon public funds at the expense of Kenyans.”

Both Mr Moseko and Mr Mutua were accused of not seeking authority for the supplementary expenditure from the county assembly.

According to the audit, 12 files with payments made to lawyers totalling Sh318.4 million were also not adequately supported with documents.

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The report exposed that Sh83 million was paid to Koceyo advocates with no evidence of the services that the law firm gave.

Another Sh85 million was paid to Momanyi and Company Associates again without documentary proof of services given.

 Arrest warrants

Other payments not supported by adequate evidence include Sh32.3 million paid to Wachira, Mburu, Mwangi and advocates, Sh20 million made to Prof Tom Ojienda and associates, Sh20.4 million to Kithi and company advocates and another Sh15.9 paid to Koceyo and advocates.

“It’s very worrying that the county has allocated a lot of money to the legal department which is being lost,” said nominated MCA Silvia Kihoro.

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The watchdog committee was also concerned that the department had not acted on a previous recommendation that former finance officials Luke Gatimu, Gregory Mwakanongo, and Maurice Okere be charged and barred from holding public office.

The officials were allegedly found responsible for the loss of Sh480 million in legal fees.

But Moseko came to his department’s defence, saying that the expenditure was due to warrants of arrest and garnishee orders issued to them by the courts.

He argued that the department had to pay, or risk officials being arrested.

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CorruptionCity HallNairobi CountyAuditor General Edward Ouko