Four employees of the ICT Authority siphoned Sh184 million from State coffers undetected for 18 months through multiple bank accounts.

It allegedly took the suspicious eye of a bank employee to unravel the well-orchestrated theft that saw the four make up to 13 cash withdrawals from the fake accounts in a single day.

The four — Felix Ongaga, Peter Mwangi, Daniel Ouma and Anthony Nyaga — are said to have capitalised on a loophole that gave them authority to make petty cash payments of below Sh500,000 without seeking approval of the CEO.

The Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) on August 3 obtained court orders freezing their bank accounts, which were at the time holding a total of Sh6.4 million.

An ongoing court case against the four is seeking to unearth how they managed to hide the scam for more than one year without detection.

“The withdrawals by 3rd and 4th respondents were done at an average of 4 to 13 transactions in day all below Sh500,000,” says ARA in court documents.

The agency says this was meant to avoid involvement of the then acting CEO of ICT Authority, Robert Mugo.

ARA says in the court documents that suspicious transactions of Sh29 million happened between January 2016 and December 2016, while between January and July 2017 Sh155.8 million was wired from the authority’s bank accounts at Citi Bank.

The petty cash loophole, which was meant to ease operations, gave the four a blank cheque to execute the theft, according to court documents.

The board had resolved that Mr Mugo, the acting CEO, and Mr Ongaga, the director corporate services, would authorise all transactions above Sh500,000.

The board further resolved that transactions below Sh500,000 were to be authorised by Mr Ongaga or Mr Ouma.

Mr Ouma was the acting finance manager.

They co-opted Mr Mwangi, who was accountant at the authority, and Mr Nyaga, a cashier, and allegedly went on the looting spree.

Mr Mwangi and Mr Nyaga would create a request in the system and Mr Ouma and Ongaga would approve.

The theft went on undetected until July 14, 2017 when a relationship manager at Citi Bank alerted the acting CEO that a series of transactions below Sh500,000 had been made.

The court was told that the cash would be personally collected by Mr Mwangi and Mr Nyaga or delivered by Wells Fargo cash courier services to them.

Investigations by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations revealed that Sh18.4 million was withdrawn between January 2016 and December 2016.

Between April 2016 and November 2016 Sh7.1 million was transferred to Equity Bank accounts of two companies known as Mod Technologies and Office Solutions.

Further the four paid out Sh3.4 million to themselves and a few other staff but no supporting documents were available.

Between January and July 2017 the four transacted Sh77 million.

The agency further claims that between January and July 2017 they paid themselves Sh20 million.

The cash was transferred to their accounts in various local banks, including Standard Chartered,  Co-operative,  Family and Equity.

The documents further reveal that in 2017 Sh56 million was wired from the ICTA accounts at Citi Bank to the Mod Technologies accounts held at the Equity, disguised as remittance to various saccos.

Source Business Daily