EACC probes top county officials over theft of Covid-19 funds

By Eric Wainaina On Mon, 27 Apr, 2020 11:02 | 2 mins read
Twalib Mbarak
EACC chief executive Twalib Mbarak (centre) with other anti-graft stakeholders at a past function. PHOTO | FILE

Several county officials are under investigation over alleged embezzlement of monies allocated to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The top officials from six counties are being investigated over direct procurement, single sourcing of suppliers and the hiking of prices.

The suppliers are linked mainly to food and medical equipment, the new avenue for corrupt government mandarins to skim off public resources and swindle the public.

Counties have already allocated millions of shillings to not only tame the spread of the coronavirus that has already killed 14 people in Kenya and infected 355, but also to cushion Kenyans from the economic impact of the pandemic.

Counties, where the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has already demanded documents over suspicious procurement, include Bungoma, where common jerrycans used for carrying water were bought at Sh10,000 each, Kilifi over the Health ministry’s expenditure and a county in North Eastern Kenya where the probe has just begun.

On Sunday, EACC chief executive Twalib Mbaraka told the People Daily that he has set his sights on claims of inflated prices, conflict of interest orchestrated through awarding of inflated tenders to relatives and cronies as well as supplying less material than agreed on order.

“The expenditure is the most vulnerable where there are county officers who do not have integrity. They are taking advantage of the situation but we are tracking them and they should know that crime doesn’t expire. Even after the pandemic, we still go for them,” Mbarak said in a telephone interview.

Further, the EACC is investigating claims of supply of substandard goods and services, and poor planning by counties, leading to wastage. For example, some county officials are installing too many sanitising jerrycans in public places without water and soap.

Mbarak said officials sanctioned the purchases in return for fat kickbacks from suppliers who are being picked through direct procurement and single sourcing.

But on Sunday, Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua defended county officials against accusations of using the pandemic to embezzle funds, saying their actions were guided by Gazette Notice Number 23 signed on April 2 on asset disposal.

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