Kericho county officials on EACC radar over graft

Kericho Governor Eric Mutai. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Top Kericho county government officials are facing probe by the Ethics and Anti-Commission (EACC) over alleged embezzlement of Sh39 million through fraudulent award and irregular payment of tenders.

According to documents seen by The Standard, EACC is probing tenders awarded to seven private companies owned or linked to the top county officials in the executive.

"The companies were tasked to undertake beautification works in Kericho and Litein municipalities.

"The tender was purported to be for the provision of services for unblocking drainage and bush clearing within an existing programme dubbed “Equalizer Kazi Kwa Vijana," the documents read in part.

The programme is said to have been rolled out by Governor Eric Mutai to engage youths for pay amounting to of Sh39 million between November 2023 and April, 2024.

"Some of these funds were paid to county officials as kickbacks making the Equalizer program a conduit for theft of public funds," a whistleblower claimed.

The companies assigned works in Kericho and Litein include Glakih, Young Focus Investment, Sitron General Works and Supplies, Toboit Enterprises, Eaglesris Company, Rihisa Enterprises and Gretom Enterprises.

It has also emerged that the companies were not pre-qualified for the tenders during the financial year and that the tenders had not been budgeted for.

"The tenders are also reportedly done outside the approved annual procurement plan, contrary to the law. Some of the companies were paid for works not rendered or fully done," the whistleblower stated.

According to the whistleblower, the companies were to receive money and make payments to hundreds of youths engaged in the project.

"However some youths were underpaid or not paid at all," the whistleblower stated leading to a petition that is now before Kericho county assembly.

When contacted, the EACC spokesperson Eric Ngumbi confirmed that the agency had received complaints on the matter and investigations had commenced.

"I confirm that the commission is seized of this complaint on alleged embezzlement of public funds in the beautification of Kericho town. Once investigations are complete, the outcome will inform appropriate action which may include prosecution of any persons found culpable and recovery of any stolen public funds," said Ngumbi.

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