28 May 2018

Kenya: Massive Corruption Case Grips Kenya, Prosecution Charges Suspects

Photo: Paul Waweru/Daily Nation
National Youth Service graft suspects appear before Nairobi Chief Magistrate in 2016.

Kenya's Chief Prosecutor Noordin Haji said Monday he had enough evidence to press charges against 40 members of the National Youth Service (NYS) who were arrested in one of Kenya's biggest corruption scandals.

The National Youth Service (NYS) boss Richard Ndubai is among 39 others and 14 private citizens who were arrested over the reported looting of $100 million (€93 million).

Ndubai and Public Service and Youth Secretary Lillian Omollo will appear in court on Tuesday for a hearing. It's the latest in a string of graft scandals to erupt in the country.

Chief prosecutor Noordin Haji told a news conference he will also examine the role of banks linked to the scandal. "In phase two of the investigations, the director of criminal investigations will focus on additional areas including companies or entities that benefited from the fraudulent payments and banks that were complicit," he said.

The charges include abuse of office, stealing public funds and forgery, among others.

The NYS claimed it paid $10 million for beef in one year - meaning each recruit would have had to consume 66 kilos (145 pounds) of beef a day.

It also claimed it purchased a car tire for $1 million.

President Uhuru Kenyatta released a message on Twitter vowing to deal with those "caught in the web of corruption."

Chief Prosecutor Haji said that the investigation by his office and the police had revealed that funds were stolen through fictitious invoices and multiple payments on one supplier invoice.

"Investigations reveal that there was no procurement whatsoever," he said, adding that several bank accounts that the funds were channeled through had been frozen.

"We want to look at everything and anything about NYS, and ask: Is it the system that is the problem? We do not want to leave any room for another scandal," Haji said.

DW's Andrew Wasike in Nairobi described the scandal as "the mother of all corruption cases in Kenya."

"Some of the companies named in the investigation had just been opened hours before money was transferred into their bank accounts," Wasike said. "Kenyans believe that these are front companies used by NYS officials to steal from the agency."

President Kenyatta had pledged to eradicate corruption. But since he first took office in 2013, no high profile convictions have occurred.

What is the NYS?

President Kenyatta set up the NYS as a paramilitary training institution to lower high youth unemployment.

Enrollment is voluntary, and trainees receive a stipend while on technical training working on government projects.

It has an annual budget of $250 million.

Kenyan anti-corruption campaigners are planning a big demonstration over the weekend urging the government to prosecute those involved in the corruption scandal.

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