The Ethics and Anti-corruption commission (EACC) has rejected allegations by Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi that the agency is interfering with the county’s efforts to recover Sh43 million.
The governor’s report, EACC said, is misleading and that the media did not seek clarification from the agency before publishing the claims.
Governor Kingi spoke before the Senate’s County Public Accounts Investment Committee (CPAIC) last week.
EACC chief executive Twalib Mbarak said the agency had been discharging its lawful mandate investigating corruption and economic crimes and seeking to recover assets lost by the county government.
“The execution of EACC’s statutory mandates should not be construed to infer interference with any remedial action initiated by the county government of Kilifi to recover that which is lost through corruption,” Mr Mbarak said.
In 2016, he said, EACC opened investigations into suspicious payments of Sh51 million to unknown suppliers by the county government.
“EACC filed civil suits and obtained injunctions to preserve some of the assets in question pending the conclusion of the cases,” he added.
Mr Mbarak noted that apart from the payments, EACC is investigating several corruption allegations in Kilifi.
In 2016 and January 2017, four directors of companies linked to the theft of Sh51 million belonging to Kilifi County at Central Bank were charged in Court.
The accused - Lucy Wanjugu Kibogo of Zohali Services Ltd, Sarah Wangui Kamau of Daima One Enterprises, Stephen Mutua Nguzi and Samuel Buku Macharia of Kilingi Supplies Investments Company and Leadership Edge Associates Ltd - were charged with conspiracy to commit a felony and handling stolen goods.
They were released on a Sh5 million bond each with one surety of the same amount or Sh1million cash bail.
The theft of the Sh51 million was first detected by the Kilifi treasury, which immediately alerted Central Bank for the payments to be reversed.
In the process, only Sh8 million was recovered as the CBA Internet Banking System had already transferred the money to various companies and the money was withdrawn.
After the four directors were charged in court, EACC also charged nine senior Kilifi officials linked to the theft.
The officers were accused of conspiracy to defraud Kilifi County of Sh51million between September 19 and October 7, 2016.
They were linked to the scam after it was discovered that their passwords had been used to approve the transfer of the money to the companies.
The officers charged were Lenox Mwadzoya (Roads and Transport inspector), Paul Mwazo (Treasury deputy director), John Kalume, (Finance senior accountant) and Josephine Muramba (Education principal accountant).
Others were Nyamawi Gambi (Finance senior accountant), Timothy Malingi (Health chief officer), Dickson Tembo (Agriculture clerical officer), Jacob Konde (Health senior accountant) and Baha Nguma (acting Health chief officer).
All the officers were suspended from work.
In 2017, the Malindi High Court transferred the case against the nine officials to Nairobi.
Former Malindi Resident Judge Said Chitembwe transferred the cases that were formally in the Kilifi court following directives that all corruption cases were to be heard before the Anti-Corruption Division of High Court in Nairobi.
“Although the accused have not been charged with corruption offences, the matter involves loss of public funds and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has been referred as an interested party,” Mr Chitembwe said.
This happened after Governor Kingi had announced that his government had recovered the stolen money.
He said the directors of the companies had agreed to refund the money after a ruling in a civil case that the county had filed against them.
The county government, he said, had filed a civil suit in a bid to recover its money, which was stolen through the Ifmis system.
Two companies - Zohali Services and Jahazi Investments - agreed that they received the money illegally and were ready to return it to the county government.
The county was to recover about Sh15 million from the two companies.
Jahazi Investments had agreed to refund Sh6 million it received and the money was to be paid to Central Bank in monthly instalments of Sh1million.
The county filed a case to obtain Sh9.3 million from Zohali Services.
Initially, Central Bank had already recalled Sh3 million and the balance was still in with the bank.
“The parties have since consented and an order was issued and directed to the bank to unfreeze the accounts and enable a reversal of the transaction to Central Bank,” Governor Kingi said.
With these developments, EACC applied in a Kilifi court to be enjoined in the case.
The criminal and civil cases are still pending in Kilifi and Malindi courts.
EACC is also investigating the multimillion-shilling Mtwapa market and bus park project in Kilifi.
Eleven acres for project was bought in October 2014 for Sh308 million.
EACC is also looking into the multimillion-shilling Kilifi County Medical Complex at Kilifi County Referral Hospital, launched in 2018.
The first phase was to cost Sh500million. Part of the project was to be funded by the World Bank with Sh150 million.
Some county officials are also being investigated for graft, and some of them have been charged.