Accounts of four Treasury staff frozen in Sh177m fraud probe

The National Treasury. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

The High Court has frozen the accounts of four National Treasury officials who allegedly stole Sh177 million through fictitious deals.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission claims that Robert Murage, Faith Kiptis, Esther Wangechi and Doris Simiyu, who earn between Sh41,000 and Sh188,000 per month, devised an elaborate plan to divert public funds to their personal accounts.

The commission alleged that the four embezzled Sh177,669,832 between 2020 and 2022, but that by the time they got intelligent information about the theft, their bank accounts had a balance of Sh37 million only.

According to the agency, the four received large sums of money disguised as extraneous and facilitation allowances.

EACC claims Kiptis, a principal finance and budget officer, was the biggest beneficiary having received Sh79,560,768 between December 2020 and March 2022.

“Her average monthly salary is Sh71,000, which totals to Sh2,130,000 for the period of investigation between January 2020 and June 2022,” says EACC.

By the time the investigations started, her accounts at KCB and Equity banks had a balance of Sh8.7 million.

For Wangechi, EACC claims that the deputy internal auditor general with a monthly salary of Sh188,000 amassed Sh53 million.

“Preliminary analysis revealed she made M-Pesa withdrawals in batches averaging Sh100,000 and Sh50,000 and cheque withdraws of amounts between Sh500,000 and Sh900,000 leaving a balance of Sh8,550,920 as at July 6 2022,” says the agency.

Simiyu, an accountant with an average monthly salary of Sh59,000 and a cumulative two-year pay of Sh1,770,000, is claimed to have received Sh20,200,100. His account has a balance of Sh8,953,988.

And Murage, who earns Sh41,000, got Sh24,758,352, according to EACC, but had a bank balance of Sh11 million by July 6.

Lady Justice Esther Maina ruled that the orders be in force for six months.