Court orders arrest, prosecution of senior water board official

By: PATRICK LANGAT

A Kisumu anti-corruption court has ordered for the arrest and prosecution of the chief executive officer of a regional water board over corruption and abuse of office.

Mr Moses Agumba Orot, the Lake Victoria South Water Services Board chief executive is accused of embezzling a total of Sh50 million through inflation of the payroll and illegally drawing funds from the organisation’s accounts.

Kisumu principal magistrate Thomas Obutu on Tuesday evening directed the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to arrest Mr Agumba and prosecute him within a month.

This was after Mr Edgar Ochieng’ filed a case asking the court to order Mr Agumba to appear before it arguing that past attempts to have the anti-graft agency act on its own had failed.

“Based on the conduct of EACC, the applicant has justified fear that Mr Agumba may not be brought to book to answer to the charges unless this court orders them so,” says Mr Ochieng’ in court papers.

The amount in question was allegedly lost from a Sh15.5 million inflation of the payroll, Sh14 million grant from the African Development Bank that the board claimed did not receive as a grant as well as Sh20 million drawn from the bank’s special account that was never returned.

The chief executive is also on the spot over failure to update organisation’s bank statements and project book accounts since September 2013.

A payroll audit prepared between 2011 and March 2014 shows a loss of Sh15.5 million was pocketed during the review allegedly paid to non-existent workers.

The audit, that Mr Ochieng’ has filed in court as part of his evidence, also shows inflated payments for employees.

The damning audit shows one employee appearing in the payroll as much as five times drawing different amounts of salaries.

“The report presented by the CEO showed discrepancies showing that the chief executive and the chief finance officer were aware of the variations,” the internal payroll audit says.

Though the audit by Risk and Audit committee recommended the suspension of Mr Agumba and the chief finance officer, it is still unclear how the chief executive is still in office, a year later.

“The members (of the audit team) recommended that the two officers be asked to step aside and other officers be employed in acting capacity,” the audit dated May 2, 2014 says.

According to the suit papers, Mr Agumba also drew Sh379 million from the company’s grant special accounts, Sh350million of which was returned by the board.