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Fund boss at the centre of Youth Fund storm

By Daniel Psirmoi | March 3rd 2016
Youth Enterprise Development Fund Board Chairman Bruce Odhiambo address the Press at his office to announce the suspension of the funds Finance Director and the Ag CEO to leave office to allow investigations on the alleged loss of the funds Millions of money 02/11/15 PHOTO MOSES OMUSULA

Bruce Odhiambo is many things to many people. To President Uhuru Kenyatta, he is a good friend and former high school classmate. To local musicians, he is a producer and a talented musician too. Bruce is also an events organiser.

But it is his enduring friendship with President Kenyatta - born at St Mary's School - that cast him in the limelight. At the height of election campaigns in 2013, he was part of the think-tank team in President Kenyatta's The National Alliance (TNA) party. Mr Odhiambo, working with others, is credited with the glitz and glamour that accompanied the launch of the Jubilee manifesto at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre.

So it was not surprising when President Kenyatta appointed him chairman of the Youth Enterprise Development Fund in April 10, 2014 after his predecessor Gor Evans Semelang'o was sacked. It was an appointment that the 52-year-old man, who holds a degree in Business Administration from Walden University of California, readily accepted.

It is this position that has put Odhiambo at the centre of a controversy following claims of fraud of Sh400m at the kitty. When reports became public in October last year that Sh180 million had been wired into a mysterious account by the fund's Chief Executive Officer Catherine Namuye, Odhiambo and the board decided to suspend her. He confirmed to The Standard that the board which he chairs had asked Ms Namuye to take a "short leave" to allow for investigations before a decision is made.

"We are a non-executive board and do not deal with the day-to-day operations of the company. We had received the allegations and asked her to take a normal leave so that she does not interfere with investigations," said Odhiambo.

During grilling by members of the Public Investment Committee's on Tuesday, he shocked MPs when he admitted that he unilaterally appointed the former CEO as the sole signatory to the kitty's investment account against the board's recommendation for multiple signatories. Ten days later Ms Namuye allegedly authorised the Sh180 million payments for consultancy services that MPs were told were never rendered.

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