, NAIROBI, Kenya May 24 – Fresh details surrounding the multi billion shillings scam at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) have emerged with 18 local traders placed at the center of it.
The scandal which has robbed Kenya tax payers’ Sh1.9 billion has been linked with top senior corrupt government officials who engaged in dubious tendering processes to benefit themselves.
Agriculture Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe on Thursday however dismissed reports that politicians and other senior government officials are involved in the scandal saying a preliminary investigations revealed that the 18 traders are solely to blame for the woes of the farmers.
Documents presented to the committee by Lesiyampe exposed a well choreographed skim where the said persons who supplied maize in Eldoret, Moi’s Bridge, Kitale, Kisumu, Bungoma and Nakuru depots consequently were paid huge amounts of money at the expense of genuine farmers whose payments were delayed.
Appearing before Parliaments’ Public Accounts Committee Lesiyampe said the 18 traders in collusion with brokers devised cunning methods to deny genuine farmers opportunities to supply maize to the cereals board.
“These are individuals who blocked the legitimate farmers from doing business with the cereals board in the process the small scale farmers were never given priority to supply their maize,” said Lesiyampe.
The PS told members the high prices gazetted by the government last year of a 90 kilogram of maize sack retailing at a cost of 3,200 significantly contributed to the increasing number of individuals who were out to gain from the dubious transactions.
“The prices were not attractive in the past hence not very many individuals or farmers were interested in doing business with the cereals board,” he said.
Lesiyampe said investigations were still ongoing to establish the circumstances under which the 18 were paid and assured that those found culpable would be brought to book.
“It is a very unfortunate incident but action will certainly be taken on those individuals found to have aided the planning and execution of the theft,” said Lesiyampe.
He promised to submit a detailed report to the committee once a comprehensive forensic audit is complete.
On Monday, Lesiyampe suspended key NCPB officials, with Managing Director Newton Terer resigning with his departure raising questions over the complexity of the matter.
Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro however read mischief on the report and said there was more than what meets the eye.
“We are talking about Sh2 billion and the 18 are mostly proxies who were used and manipulated by a wider ring of cartels to loot public resources,” he said.
Committee Chair and Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi said the committee would recommend to relevant authorities to open criminal charges to individuals adversely mentioned in the scam.
“These criminals should be known to the public and charged,” he said.