NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 9 – The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) Deputy CEO Michael Mubea was on Thursday hard-pressed to explain his agency’s recommendation to have Auditor-General Edward Ouko prosecuted even as it emerged that there was no direct evidence linking him to irregularities in the procurement of an audit software.
MPs in the National Assembly Finance, Trade and Finance Committee poked holes into the presentation made by Mubea as they sought to establish a link that supported the allegations the corruption agency made against Ouko.
Mubea later – but in a veiled manner – conceded that they were no longer investigating Ouko after the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko cleared him.
“When the file came back from the DPP there were recommendations; there were certain recommendations we made against the Auditor General, not his office, which the DPP directed that the evidence was not sufficient to sustain the charges and therefore he did not agree with us.”
“But there were also other areas that we were supposed to undertake investigations before charging some people who he had agreed with us, we should charge and those are the ones I said investigations are ongoing,” Mubea stated.
This is after Imenti Central MP Rahim Dawood, Kisumu Town East MP Shakeel Shabbir and Bomet Central MP Ronald Tonui sought clarification on the status of the investigations of the files which were referred back by the DPP.
They wanted to know if the committee would not be prejudicing EACC investigations by concurrently handling a matter under its probe.
The investigation reports cites various irregularities including the award of Local Purchase Order (LPO) in August 14, 2013 which was three months before the Auditor-General and OSI Kenya signed the contract on October 20, 2013 (which is a public holiday).
In response to clarifications sought by MPs Rose Ombaka (Kisumu County Woman Representative), Dalmas Otieno (Rongo) and Lati Leleti (Samburu West) who wanted to know whether the anti-graft agency had any evidence on Ouko, Mubea said that the agency probes are meant to attach most responsibility to officers who failed to perform the task.
“Our interest as a committee is the removal of one Edward Ouko, as the Auditor General of the Republic of Kenya so the clarifications we are seeking is what would be affecting the person and not his office in total and Mubea knows it better than us that officers under us do so many things with or without our knowledge,” said the Rongo MP.
“We are interested in identifying failures, participations or omissions or involvements or decisions of the Auditor-General Edward Ouko not the office.”
In his response, Mubea stated: “The buck always stops with the CEO, Chair, I want to say that when you are investigating matters to do with procurement, you don’t focus on the office or an individual, because procurement is a process, there are so many players, so when I am talking about the Office of Auditor General, we never focused on the Auditor General as a person. It is the process, was the law followed? If it was flouted, by who? We identify those kinds of people. We are not focusing on any one person.”
The EACC Deputy CEO had taken the committee which is considering the petition for the removal of Ouko, through a report in which he cited that Auditor-General Ouko overruled his junior and signed payment voucher for an irregular Sh100 million contract.
He said the funds were moved around in a manner mirroring a money laundering syndicate, after it was deposited into the account of OSI-Kenya (the firm which was awarded the contract to supply the audit vault).
He gave details of how immediately after receiving the Sh100 million contract sum, OSI Kenya quickly wired Sh36 million to a law firm which in turn transferred it to Deputy Auditor General Kinuthia’s account or bought property on behalf of his sons and daughter.
According to the EACC investigations, Sh48 million was moved by OSI Kenya from its Barclays Bank account after which Sh36.1 million (USD 361,300.25) was wired to Weston Africa (UK) – where it established an individual by the name William Odhiambo Oduol is listed as among the directors.
He said the firm further wired Sh2.5 million from its Kenya Commercial Bank account -where the money was initially deposited – to Kiplang’at and Valentine, who investigators revealed are directors of OSI Kenya.
A sum of Sh3.4million was used to by a vehicle for the director of OSI Kenya.
Mubea said the investigators attention was aroused by the almost identical transactions of Sh36 million made to Njunguna and Partners and to Weston Africa respectively.
“From Njunguna and Partners, that is where we see money moving back and forth, we see Stephen Ndung’u, an employee of the Office of the Auditor General receiving Sh446,000; we see the purchase of a car at Sh1.7 million to Kinuthia, the Deputy Auditor General’s daughter. A sum of Sh13 million goes to a company called NK Holdings for the purchase of land bought by the sons of the Deputy Auditor-General,” he said.
“A sum of Sh1.8million went to a firm called Genesis Golden Textile in the UK, we have also a sum of Sh3.5million going to Newton again this is in purchase of land. We also did see a sum of Sh7.9 million wired to a law firm, Amollo and Gachoka Advocates. We have a sum of Sh10million that went to Faida Investment Nanazi.”
MPs took EACC to task on the whether Ouko was a direct beneficiary of the funds but Mubea once again explained that despite KENAO being a big institution they had attached culpability on the Auditor-General as the accounting officer.
The EACC boss said the Commission could not verify whether Kenyans got value for money because ‘ that is the duty of the agency to decide how well what they have procured is serving them’ adding that they were only interested in looking at the procurement procedures.
“The evidence we have is that this money was stolen and we have identified the thieves,” he stressed. “I have explained the money trail and there is nowhere I have said this money went to Ouko,” Mubea stated.
Mubea clarified to the House committee that it was not unprocedural for Ouko to have signed the contract for the procurement of the Audit Vault software.
Committee Chairman Benjamin Langat called off the meeting after the Mubea he could respond to any more queries because they could affect on-going investigations.