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Bruce Odhiambo steps aside as probe on Sh180m loss at Youth Fund continues

By Roselyne Obala | March 26th 2016
Youth Fund Chairman Bruce Odhiambo before the National Assembly’s Public Investment Committee recently. PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD]

Youth Fund board chairman Bruce Odhiambo has finally given in to pressure as the Parliamentary Investments Committee (PIC) investigates the loss of Sh180 million at the fund.

Mr Odhiambo announced on Thursday evening that he had decided to step aside, according to an email he sent from the US where he is on private business.

His decision comes as the board accused him and suspended acting CEO Catherine Namuye of acting unilaterally to change signatories of a Youth Fund bank account, leading to the theft of funds.

The board, through audit committee chairman Nicholas Mwaniki, said they had resolved to have the Sh400 million held at an investment account transferred to another account in a government owned banking institution, but this was not acted upon.

“On January 20, 2014 we resolved to have the funds transferred. This was before the funds left the account in February and April respectively,” Mwaniki told the ongoing investigations by the National Assembly's PIC.

Board cartel

He told the MPs that when he pressed to get information on the agency’s bank account, Odhiambo purported to transfer him as the audit chairman, a decision later rescinded by other board members.

The MPs also claimed that top officials at the agency were doing business with the Fund. “It appears the officers were doing business with the fund’s money. There is a board cartel involving the members,” said committee chairman Adan Keynan.

Board members Wanza Mutunda, Simon Macharia (alternate to Treasury Principal Secretary Kamau Thuge), Clement Ayungo (Youth Council representative), Michael Wamai, Timothy Gakuo (formerly alternate to Planning PS Peter Mangiti) and Mwaniki told the committee that they were ready to leave office to allow for proper investigations into the scam. The committee said documents presented before them have numerous discrepancies and end up being disowned by the same people tabling them. “The mentioned officials are highly skilled, highly manipulative and quick to retract without trace,” said Keynan.

The MPs also questioned the death of Simon Mwangi, an employee of the agency, and sought to establish whether it was as a result of the scam.

MPs Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu), Chris Wamalwa (Kiminini) Cornelly Serem (Aldai) John Kiragu (Limuru), Thomas Mwadegu (Wundanyi), Barrel Shil (Fafe),Paul Otuoma (Funyula) Muthomi Njuki (Chuka/Igambangombe) and Oburu Odinga (nominated) have been grilling Youth Fund officials over the loss of Sh180 million.

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