Obado, mystery family and missing Sh2b
Migori Governor Okoth Obado’s administration paid out Sh2 billion to non-existent companies for services not rendered in a well-planned corruption syndicate.
This is according to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), which is pursuing six proxies in connection with the scam. The six are from one family.
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EACC is also pursuing a pharmacist employed by Mr Obado to recover funds reportedly looted.
EACC's case against the six family members shows a well-choreographed conspiracy in which the county government paid millions of shillings for services not rendered and goods not delivered. In return, the county’s top officials, including Obado, received hefty kickbacks.
It is a trying time for the Migori Governor who is separately facing murder charges for the alleged killing of 26-year-old Rongo University student Sharon Otieno. Obado has since denied charges of murdering Sharon on September 3 at Owade in Rachuonyo Sub-County of Homa Bay County and is out on Sh5 million cash bail.
“We have established that they worked in collusion with county government officials holding positions of influence to embezzle public funds through fictitious procurement contracts and accumulated wealth illicitly at the expense of the public,” said EACC.
EACC has filed a case against the six family members in the High Court, seeking to recover money it said they acquired illegally from the Migori County Government.
In one of the instances, EACC claimed the county government paid over Sh800 million to seven non-existent companies. The companies were said to have been registered and became operational almost two years after the money had been credited to their bank accounts. It was from such fictitious deals that Governor Obado was said to have received Sh39 million. The money was reportedly wired to Obado's children studying in Australia and Scotland.
EACC claimed the architect of the scandal was Jared Oluoch Kwaga, a director of all the 16 companies alleged to have been involved in siphoning public funds from the county government of Migori.
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Kwaga incorporated his wife, Christine Akinyi Ochola, his brothers, Joram Opala Otieno and Patroba Ochanda Otieno, his mother, Penina Auma Otago, and sister-in-law, Carolyne Anyango Ochola, and another relative identified as Robert Odoyo Okeyo.
Their companies are Macropharm Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Soul Media Services Ltd, Misoft Ltd, Dankey Press Ltd, Atinus Services Ltd, Deltrack ICT Services Ltd, Tarchdog Printers Ltd, Mactebac Contractors Ltd, Seletrack Consultants Ltd, Joyush Business Ltd, Kajulu Business Ltd, Pesulus Suppliers Ltd, Victorious Investments and Duotech Technology.
According to EACC, Misoft Ltd got Sh461 million, the biggest share, for branding of Obado’s offices, establishment of an FM radio station, supply of integrated health services, supply and maintenance of radio links and supply of internet services.
“These were part of dubious contracts with fictitious payments for services not rendered. The companies were formed specifically to loot funds. They connived through fraudulent schemes and accumulated illegal wealth that must be surrendered to the State,” said EACC.
Kajulu Business Ltd allegedly received Sh55 million for supply of ICT equipment and stationery, offering consultancy services for delivery of home lighting and branding of water tanks supplied by the county government.
The family’s third company, Joyush Business Ltd, supplied various pharmaceutical products to the county government at a cost of Sh54 million while Deltrack ICT Services Ltd got Sh163 million for supplying flatbed scanners and configuring ICT equipment.
Five companies - Dankey Press Ltd, Tarchdog Printers Ltd, Pesulus Suppliers Ltd, Victorious Investments and Duotech Technology - received Sh598 million in their accounts. But the EACC documents filed in court did not show any services they rendered to the county government.
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Three companies - Mactebac Contractors Ltd, Soul Media Services Ltd, Macropharm Pharmaceuticals Ltd - were also paid a total of Sh247 million, but according to EACC, they had not supplied anything or rendered any service to Migori County.
“The companies were incorporated between 2014 and 2016 after establishment of county governments in 2013, with the sole purpose of fraudulently securing tenders from the county government of Migori,” said EACC.
The commission further claimed the administration paid Seletrack Consultants Ltd Sh158 million for assessment of ICT applications in public hospitals, cabling of the county government offices and consultancy services for survey of soya beans farming in Migori.
Atinus Services Ltd allegedly supplied furniture, offered consultancy services for survey of employee satisfaction and branded motorcycles at a cost of Sh114 million.
Mr Otieno, a county government employee, was said to have received Sh118 million through his two companies - Swyfcon Engineering Ltd and Dolphus Software Ltd - for services the EACC claimed were not rendered to the county government.
Otieno was employed on September 15 as a pharmacist at the Uriri sub-county hospital. The commission claimed he registered his two companies in 2016, yet the money was said to have been disbursed in 2014. This means his companies were paid before they came into existence.
“Contrary to laws that prohibit employees from entering into procurement contracts with the county, the defendant incorporated two companies which received millions of shillings from the county on the pretext of trading with his employer,” said EACC.
The commission said it had not been able to locate some of the beneficiaries it said were the proxies Obado used to siphon millions of shillings from his own administration.
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Justice Hedwig Ong’udi yesterday gave EACC more days to find and serve them with the court papers which detail how 14 companies owned by six members of one family illegally received Sh1,978,592,467.
“Let the EACC serve them as soon as possible. They will have 10 days to respond from the date of service with the application,” said Justice Ong’udi.