County bosses are facing charges including mismanagement of public funds, irregular award of tenders and money laundering.

More than Sh100 billion is at the centre of on-going corruption cases some of which involve current and former governors. The amounts and details were revealed through corruption cases filed by Asset Recovery Agency and Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) in a bid to recover public funds. Migori, Garissa, Tharaka Nithi and Nairobi are among counties whose governors have been dragged to court to face graft charges. Migori Governor Okoth Obado was charged for allegedly defrauding the county government of more than Sh300 million.

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Obado was charged alongside his four children Dan Achola, Scarlet Susan, Jerry Zachary and Evelyne Odhiambo and traders Jared Oluoch, Christine Ochola, Penina Auma, Joram Opala, Patroba Ochanda and Caroline Anyango. The governor and his co-accused faced 28 charges, with the crust of the prosecution’s case being that they allegedly conspired to defraud the county government of more than Sh300 million through deceit, conflict of interest and blatant theft. Obado and the businessmen faced other charges of money-laundering as they were accused of entering into illegal arrangement and received Sh280 million from the county government while disguising source of the funds.

Garissa Governor Ali Korane also has a case in court, charged with allegedly mismanaging Sh233 million. He was charged together with four county officials with eight counts of conspiracy to commit an economic crime, failure to comply with laws relating to management of public funds and misappropriation of public funds.

“Between February and September, you conspired to commit an economic crime namely mismanagement of public funds allocated to County Government of Garissa as a conditional grant for the Kenya Urban Support Programme amounting to Sh233,506,000,” read the charge sheet.

L-R: Governors Obado and Ali Korane.

His co-accused were the county’s chief finance officer Ibrahim Malow, head of county treasury Mohamed Abdullahi, chief executive of Garissa Municipal Board Abdi Bulle and the county’s head of accounting Ahmed Aden.

Tharaka Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki was charged alongside 20 others with alleged Sh34 million fraud in a tender for supply, installation and commissioning of a solid waste incinerator. The governor, his wife, nephew, brother-in-law and other county officials allegedly conspired to embezzle public funds through conflict of interest and irregular award of tenders. In Mandera County, an official was accused of allegedly diverting Sh500 million from the county coffers to his personal accounts. This was revealed in a case filed by Asset Recovery Agency against Abdi Mohamed Ali and his wife Saadia Sheikh Osman in which the agency is seeking to recover the funds.

The agency stated in their application that there was reason to believe the money was proceeds of crime taken from the county government of Mandera where Abdi works as a director of livestock. ARA said the official could not explain the source of his wealth which did not tally with his legitimate earnings leading to the conclusion that they were proceeds of crime.

Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua was also suspected to have enriched himself through proceeds of crime when ARA filed a suit to recover Sh200 million in his accounts.

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Transferred to accounts

ARA argued that the cash in the MP’s three separate accounts was acquired through money laundering and corrupt practices, and should be immediately forfeited to the State.

“We established that he was involved in a complex scheme of money laundering involving several companies which received funds from national government ministries before the money was transferred to his personal accounts,” said ARA.

According to ARA, Gachagua’s three personal accounts conducted a series of huge suspicious debit transactions amounting to Sh7.3 billion and a total credit of Sh12.5 billion between 2013 and 2020 which they believe are proceeds of crime.

At the Kenya Ports Authority, more than Sh2 billion was suspected to have been lost through irregular award of tenders. It led to the prosecution of former KPA Managing Director Daniel Manduku and ports officer Juma Fadhili after they were charged with conspiracy to engage in corruption. The charges stated that Manduku and Fadhili conspired to approve procurement of concrete barriers worth Sh1,429,730,721 without approved budget and failing to comply with procurement laws which occasioned a loss of Sh679 million from KPA.

Received multiple payments

L-R: Waititu and Rigathi Gachagua.

The National Treasury and the Office of the President were also not spared when ARA filed a suit against an official at the Treasury and a businesswoman whose actions are suspected to have led to the loss of Sh316 million. According to ARA, their investigations had revealed that Ruth Nyambura and Stephen Musyoka received multiple payments from the same ministries and State agencies in schemes of money laundering amounting to Sh316.5 million. The agency is seeking to recover the money, claiming that it is public funds taken through a conspiracy to conceal the nature and sources of the money.

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EACC also filed suits to recover millions of shilling allegedly taken from Nairobi and Kiambu counties under the watch of impeached governors Mike Sonko and Ferdinand Waititu.

In Kiambu, the anti-graft commission filed a case against Waititu and several traders to recover Sh147 million allegedly irregularly paid from public funds for upgrading gravel roads in Thika, Limuru, Gatundu North, Juja and Ruiru. EACC accused the former Kiambu Governor of allegedly influencing the tendering process and award of the tender in favour of Testimony Ltd in abuse of his office and contrary to the interest and welfare of the county government.

In Nairobi, the agency is seeking to recover Sh175 million from businessman Anthony Mwaura which they claim was acquired through irregular tenders. Sonko has also not been spared in the bid to recover public funds. The agency is claiming that the former Nairobi governor is a beneficiary of millions of shillings illegally acquired from his administration and which should be forfeited for being proceeds of crime.