Accountant on the spot for 'paying self Sh36m'

National Treasury, Nairobi. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Tracy Kinge is not just an ordinary junior finance officer at the National Treasury and Planning.

She surpassed her peers to join the millionaires club within two years.

Her average salary from the time she was employed in January 2020 as Finance Officer II has been Sh50,954. But by March 2022, she had reportedly paid herself a total of Sh36 million from the National Treasury disguised as extraneous and facilitation allowances.

Ms Kinge’s sudden wealth raised suspicion which saw the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission file a suit at the High Court.

“From our initial findings, we have reasonable suspicion that the Sh36 million in her accounts are misappropriated public funds which she paid to herself by virtue of her position,” said EACC lawyer Olga Ochola.

The commission obtained orders freezing Ms Kinge’s two bank accounts at Co-Operative Bank on claims the amounts are proceeds of corruption which ought to be forfeited to the State.

Lady Justice Esther Maina ruled that there is a real danger that Ms Kinge will hide the funds unless stopped. She directed that the freezing orders be in force for six months to allow the commission to finish investigations.

“An order is hereby issued prohibiting Ms Kinge, her agents, or any other person acting on her behalf from withdrawing, transferring, or in any way dealing with the money in the stated accounts,” Justice Maina said.

The EACC, in the application, said it received information regarding embezzlement of public funds by Ms Kinge and upon analysis of her two bank accounts, discovered discrepancies in her salary and the amount she received between January 2020 and June 2022.

Ms Ochola said an analysis of the official’s first account showed that beside her monthly salary of Sh50,954, she also received Sh24 million in unexplained circumstances.

“In a bid to conceal the funds, she used part of it to purchase treasury bills for Sh5 million in a pooled investment,” said Ochola. In her second bank account, EACC said the finance officer transferred Sh11.8 million in a span of five months, between February 2022 to June 2022.

The commission added that Ms Kinge tried her latest loot by opening two other fixed bank accounts where she transferred the Sh11 million to conceal the source.

The case will be mentioned in January next year after the lapse of the six months.