EACC probe exposes rot at Communication Authority

Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) headquarters, Nairobi. [Jenipher Wachie, Standard]

The anti-graft agency investigation into the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) has unearthed financial mismanagement, abuse of office and non-compliance with financial regulations.

The Ethic and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) investigation is based on the Internal Audit and Risk Assurance (IA and RA) Department report, which reviewed the international relations processes as per the approved Annual Audit Plan 2022/23 dated August 3 at the Authority.

“The purpose was to assure the board that the authority’s risk management, governance, and internal control processes are operating efficiently and effectively," reads the report obtained by EACC after raiding CA offices in Westlands, Nairobi.

The investigation comes days after the Communication Authority suspended Director General Ezra Chiloba, through an internal memo to all staff dated September 18.

"A list of 46 staff were paid a net of Sh100,000 each, incurring a budget of Sh7,157,148. In addition to their salaries, it is not clear which policy was used," the findings stated.

"The effect is abuse of office, loss of public funds, noncompliance with the regulation, and spending on nonexistent budgets."

The report, which calls for the recovery of all payments and allowances paid outside what is provided by the law established that there was alleged spending on non-existent budgets within the Communication Authority and the funds were disbursed for purposes that lacked proper budgetary allocations, raising concerns about financial mismanagement.

“The summary findings established the use of non-travel-related budgets for international travel costs without prior approval of re-allocation of funds,” the report said.

“Failure to apprise the Board on delegations exceeding five participants in international meetings and conferences.”

The investigation also revealed instances of abuse of office leading to the loss of public funds through irregular payments without proper policies in place, including accountable imprests and tokens, approved by the Director General's office without adequate documentation or justification.

The findings stated an absence of a clear policy regarding accountable imprests where large sums of money were disbursed for purposes that were not transparent, including expenditures on evening drinks, snacks, and dinners for staff.

The report also highlighted violations of the CA's travel policy, where travel nominations were not always properly signed by the heads of nominating departments, leading to potential conflicts of interest.

Furthermore, travel schedules were prepared monthly instead of annually, and there was a lack of clarity regarding the criteria for selecting or rejecting travel nominations.

EACC expressed concern over the failure to adhere to the policy limiting the number of staff travelling on the same flight to mitigate business continuity risks, saying that this oversight could have serious consequences in the event of a disaster.

According to the report, cash disbursements above certain thresholds for travel-related procurements were made without proper procurement procedures, raising questions about transparency and financial accountability.

Staff were allegedly allowed to exceed prescribed limits without proper waivers or board notification. The investigation has also raised questions about the payment of various allowances and tokens, as there is no clear policy governing the same.