NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 23 – Investigations into misappropriation of funds at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) are nearing conclusion.
Public Health Minister Beth Mugo said on Monday that the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC) had questioned a number of members of the former board, which was disbanded two weeks ago, over the alleged mismanagement.
“I cannot tell you exactly how much more time,” she said, quoting the KACC Director as saying the probe was at an advanced stage. “Let us give them a little more time but keep on reminding them because we need to have this money back.”
Mrs Mugo disbanded the former board following revelations of mismanagement of funds amounting to over Sh476 million. At least Sh444 million worth of staff pension could not be accounted for in the audits. A further Sh19.3 million belonging to Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was allegedly diverted to private accounts.
The disbanded board had been appointed in January 2007 to serve for a period of three years. The former director Dr Davy Koech was suspended in August last year following allegations of transfer of Sh19.3 million from CDC.
The Minister spoke as she inaugurated a new board which she challenged to help rebuild the dented image of the research institution. Dr Sopiato Likimani a consultant in HIV and Public Health will chair the new board. Other appointees are Professors Ruth Nduati, Samuel Sinei, Norah Olembo, Kimumbu Thairu and Dr Peter Omboga.
Dr Likimani said the new board would look into issues raised by reports of the Inspector-general and complains raised by staff members.
“Our role will be to assist the institution improve the public relations, re-establish the public reputation and also reconnect the trust and honesty and relationships with regional and international collaborators,” she said.
KEMRI was established in 1979 under the Science and Technology (Amendment) Act of that year to represent the national body responsible for carrying out health science research in Kenya.