Kenya: Detectives Probe Cash Theft Scandal At NHIF

27 September 2020

Authorities are investigating four separate allegations of theft of funds at the national health insurer.

The National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) is also in the spotlight over its new organisational structure that has seen various staff promoted to senior positions without the requisite qualifications and against the parameters laid out by the Public Service Commission for the promotion of public officers to senior positions.

The Sunday Nation has obtained four letters from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) addressed to the national insurer in quick succession in an investigation that may have implications for the scaling up of Universal Health Coverage, which is one of the Big Four agenda.

In one of the letters dated September 14, 2020, the DCI is investigating the fraudulent acquisition of public property and has requested at least five original documents with signatures and handwritings of 18 former and current staff between 2016-2019.

Specimen signatures

One of the specimen signatures and handwritings the investigators want is that of former NHIF chief executive Geoffrey Gitau Mwangi, who was accused of allegedly blocking investigations into corruption at the insurer.

The DCI, in a separate letter dated September 10, 2020, stated that it was conducting investigations into allegations of fraud involving healthcare providers in Kenya.

The investigating officer requested seven documents, including minutes of a meeting between county executive committee members and NHIF managers in the Naivasha.

In the letter addressed to the chief executive, the DCI also asked that the NHIF nominate an individual to certify the board paper on the procurement plan for the 2017/18 financial year that had earlier been approved.

The NHIF is also in the spotlight over the appointment of directors and heads of department, some of whom have moved up five job groups without having the PSC qualifications.

Internal memo

In an internal memo dated September 22, 2020, CEO Peter Kamunyo announced the new organisational structure, which is part of Health Financing Reforms Expert Panel report that indicates that the fund has weaknesses that affect its operations.

"The current arrangement does not adequately cover all core functions that are needed to make the NHIF a strategic purchaser. Second, the structure is hierarchical and functionally fragmented.

"As a result, the different departments and units operate in silos with very little coordination and communication. This results in bureaucratic inefficiencies," reads the report in part.

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