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EACC probes alleged misappropriation of Siaya County's Sh74 million bursary funds

By Harold Odhiambo | June 26th 2020

Anxiety has gripped Siaya County Government after the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) launched a probe into alleged misappropriation of Sh74.9 million bursary funds.

The funds were meant to support poor learners in the county during the 2017/2018 financial year but were paid to ghost recipients with cash illegally transferred from the Bursary Fund Account.

On Wednesday, Western region EACC manager George Owira confirmed that investigations into the alleged fraud were at an advanced stage and they were ready to issue summons to the suspects.

“We took up the case and we have already identified persons of interest who we are expecting to appear before us. We delayed the interviews with them because of Covid-19, but we are back on track,” said Owira.

The Standard has established that detectives collected crucial documents from the county detailing how transactions took place.

Among the issues, the agency is probing include some Sh1.7 million balance, which could not be explained as well as Sh29 million that was transferred back to the county treasury.

The Standard has established that the agency is also probing the expenditure of some Sh2.7 million that was used by administrators as expenses without supporting invoices.

Questions are also being asked how Sh38.7 million was disbursed to ineligible students while genuine applicants failed to get bursaries.

Yesterday, a senior county official who sought anonymity, said detectives visited their offices last month and picked a number of documents.

“We don’t know the individuals targeted but we are aware there is a probe going on over the bursary disbursements,” said the official.

Unearth the rot

The other document that the agency has also reportedly picked from the county government is a report by an assembly committee that unearthed the rot in disbursement of the funds.

The Auditor General was the first to raise the red flag detailing how money was transferred from the treasury to the bursary funds account.

In a report tabled at the County Assembly early this year by the Public Accounts and Investments Committee chairperson Willam Kinyanyi, the committee claimed that the validity of some of the receipts could not be confirmed. The report highlighted a series of discrepancies in payments as well as alleged overstatement and understatements in financial documents.

This included some Sh924,456, which was listed as part of the liabilities but could not be explained by county officials.

“Additionally, the county seemingly lost a total of Sh29,855,740, which was allegedly transferred from County Bursary Fund Account to the CRF account contrary to Section 116 (3) (4),” read the report in part.

The report’s recommendations adopted by the County Assembly show amounts of between Sh25,000 and Sh100,000 were disbursed to ineligible students in various institutions.

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