The Auditor General’s office is in a spot following allegations of a biased report into a lucrative tender on motor vehicle inspection.
There are claims four officials who carried out a special audit into the tender may have been compromised to tilt their report in favour of a firm that was competing for the deal.
The Public Investment Committee (PIC) of the National Assembly yesterday heard that the officials were facilitated during their investigations - including accommodation in high-end hotels in foreign capitals - by one of the firms eyeing the job so its competitors could be blacklisted.
Their Special Audit Report on the Procurement of Pre-Export Verification of Conformity (PVOC) to Standard Services – Used Motor Vehicle, Mobile Equipment, and Used Spare Parts by the Kenya Bureau of Services (KeBS), is now a subject of investigations by the PIC.
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At the centre of the alleged unethical practice by the auditors is a firm, Quality Inspection Services Inc. Japan (QISJ), which has been undertaking motor vehicle inspection in Kenya. The company is one of those currently competing for an improved tender by Kebs.
In the report, the Auditor-General has recommended debarment of two firms; EAA Company and Auto Terminal Japan Company, accusing them of falsifying documents and misrepresenting themselves in a tender that was later won by QISJ.
A director of Auto Terminal Japan Company, Isaac Kalua, yesterday accused the four officials from the Auditor General’s office of accepting facilitation by their competitors to United Kingdom, South Africa and Japan, where they conducted their audit.
“From the totality of the documents attached, it is evident that the report of the Auditor-General may have been facilitated by an interested party with the support of certain officials from Kebs. It could not have therefore been objective and unbiased,” says Dr Kalua.
Challenged by the committee chaired by Mvita MP Abdullswamad Nassir to substantiate his claims, Kalua produced what he termed evidence to prove the said officers were invited and their logistics - including accommodation in top five-star hotels – provided by their competitors.
“In absence of an ethical process, then the office of the Auditor-General may be deemed to be conflicted and therefore outrightly biased. It is important that the officials and or representatives of the Auditor General remain independent and operate in total adherence to the constitutional principles,” Kalua said in a sworn affidavit filed before the committee.
He added: “The whole process and report may be biased from inception, including giving short notices to some parties while they were all subject to the same audit.”
Kalua produced a letter, dated February 8, 2019, by QISJ to the British High Commissioner in Nairobi asking him to grant visas, to the United Kingdom, for Mr Fredrick Odhiambo, Catherine Mwasho, Brian Thuku and Dr John Ng'eno. They are indicated as Kebs officials who wanted to go there to inspect QISJ facilities and to carry out some audits and due diligence checks.
He also tabled an email extract from a person who identified himself as “QISJ Admin”, sent to Dr Ng'eno and Ms Mwasho confirming the “team” had also been invited to Japan. He also promised to apply for their Dubai visa and make their payments and send the same to the team.
Kalua told the committee that while QISJ had been notified of the intended audit as early as February 6, 2019, the other competitors, his company and the EAA, were notified five days later and through a totally different notification from the one sent to QISJ.
Kalua also provided a hotel booking to Innova Park, Enfiled in London. The said booking was done by a Mr Jaffer Hassan, who was identified as QISJ manager.
He also produced an invitation letter for Mwasho and Ng'eno to South Africa.
However, in their audit, they admitted that they visited the QISJ sub-contractor but that due to limited time, they were not able to visit the Auto Terminal Japan contractors who are in the same country.
Even after admitting that they did not visit Auto Terminal sub-contractor, Kalua claims they went ahead to make a negative report about them, while they made a positive one for QISJ.
He went ahead to provide an invitation letter for the “team” to Japan, also producing a hotel receipt for Intercontinental Hotel in Yokohama, Japan, where Mr Odhiambo was booked in.
Nassir has consequently demanded that the auditing team produces their documents after they disowned Kalua's