Kibunja faces Sh490m ‘ghost’ pay charges

Monday, April 15th, 2024 09:00 | By
Former Director General of National Museums of Kenya (NMK) Mzalendo Kibunja ing. PHOTO/Print

Former Director General of National Museums of Kenya (NMK) Mzalendo Kibunja and four others are set to be charged in court for irregularly paying Sh490 million as salaries to ghost workers.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Renson Ingonga has also recommended the prosecution of former Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria together with six other over a Sh140 million procurement fraud between 2015 and 2016 at the devolved unit.

Kibunja is to be charged alongside his former colleagues including the Director, Human Resource and Administration Stanvas Ongalo Opijah; ICT Officer Payroll Section Oliver Okinyi Rabuor and Accountant, Payroll Section Wycliffe Odhiambo Ongata. Also to be charged is Oscar Mwaura Wambui is an accountant at Equity Bank.

Ghost workers

According to the DPP, the monies were paid to ghost workers between 2015 and 2022.

“The Sh490 million was irregularly paid as salaries to ghost employees and later transferred to officers of the institution between Financial Year 2015/2016 and 2021/2022,” the ODPP said.

The decision to charge them follows independent and thorough review of the resubmitted inquiry file by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

In August last year, EACC said an investigation in the institution had revealed that 105 ghost workers were added to the payroll between 2016 and 2022.

The ghost workers were paid a gross salary of between Sh88,000 and Sh95,000, and they were also able to access loan facilities from a specific bank. The probe further revealed that they later handed over the borrowed amount to NMK officials, and they were given between Sh100,000 and Sh200,000 as appreciation.

Various offences

Ingonga said they were satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to warrant the prosecution of the suspects for various offences including conspiracy to commit an offence of corruption contrary to section 47A (3) as read with section 48 of Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act (ACECA); abuse of office contrary to section 46 as read with section 48 of ACECA; and unlawful acquisition of public property contrary to section 45(1)(a) as read with section 48 of ACECA.

They are also to face charges of acquisition of proceeds of crime contrary to section 4 as read with section 16 of Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act (POCAMLA) and financial misconduct contrary to section 197(1)(i) as read with section 199 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

Former Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria, on the other hand, is to be charged alongside seven others for irregularly awarding tenders and other procurement irregularities totaling the aforementioned amount.

The DPP said an investigation carried out by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) revealed that the suspects fraudulently awarded tenders to Top Image Media Consultancy Limited and Value View Limited with disregard to conflict of interest.

The seven other people are Patrick Kagumu Mukuria, Jane Wanjiru Mbuthia, David Maina Kiama, David Mamma Njeri, Jane Waigwe Kimani, Solomon Mutura Kimani and Peter Muturi Karanja.

“This follows an investigation by EACC on procurement irregularities and conflict of interest in the award of publicity tenders by the County Government of Murang’a to M/S Top Image Media Consultancy Ltd in the Financial Year 2014/2015 and 2015/2016,” stated DPP.

He added: “The eight were found to have engaged in procurement irregularities in the award of publicity tenders to Top Image Media Consultants Limited and Value View Limited.”

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