Judiciary unveils plan to seal corruption loopholes in courts

The Judiciary is taking steps to tighten its financial management rules as it moves to seal off loopholes that past officials have allegedly exploited to plunder public resources.

Under the Finance Policy and Procedures Manual released yesterday, no payments will be processed for suppliers and contractors without evidence of provision of goods and services.

While the manual simply restates the government spending guidelines, past audit reports have unearthed collusion with Judiciary officials that led to release of millions of shillings to contractors long before the work begins.

“This manual comes at a time when the Judiciary, like all arms of government is facing heightened scrutiny in its utilisation of public resources,” says Chief Registrar Anne Amadi.

The manual states that review of procurement requisitions, approval of LPOs and processing of payments will be handled independently by finance, accounts and supply chain departments respectively.

Its publication comes just months after a special audit by Auditor-General Edward Ouko unearthed misuse of the Judiciary finances as officials ignored government guidelines to make aance payment for contracts never executed.

The audit which led to an acrimonious fallout between the current administrators and a team led by former Chief Registrar Gladys Shollei, also detailed cases of overpayment for services and acquisition of assets, including Chief Justice’s official residence which remain idle.

According to the manual, all payments must be backed by “duly authorised documentation” in order to be processed. The Judiciary officials are also forbidden from converting revenue received in shillings to foreign currencies — another loophole that has been exploited in the past to steal money by quoting lower exchange rates.

The Chief Registrar must make written requests to the Judicial Service Commission and the National Treasury for authorisation before opening any bank account for the Judiciary.

The guidelines allow judicial officers who are instructed to make payments under unclear circumstances to raise their concerns in writing to the Chief Registrar.

“Upon payment, the officer may proceed and send a copy of the report to the Auditor- General.”

At all times, the Chief Registrar is expected to maintain a register of all officers who have been delegated the authority to incur expenses.

The guidelines state: “Delegation of power does not take away the accountability from the accounting officer who remains responsible for any expenditure incurred as a result of that delegation.”