The suspension of Communications Authority Director-General Ezra Chiloba over misuse of the agency’s mortgage scheme now shifts the spotlight to President William Ruto after one of his aides was linked to the scam.
Emerging details indicate that an internal audit carried out by CA established that Chiloba and Mercy Wanjau, currently the Secretary to the Cabinet, were culpable in the mortgage scam.
Wanjau worked at the CA where she was the Director of Legal Services before she was picked to act as the Director-General.
With Chiloba already having been shown the door, all eyes are now on the President to see if he will take action against Wanjau.
As the Secretary to the Cabinet which is the highest decision making organ in the country, Wanjau is in charge of arranging the business, and keeping the minutes, of the Cabinet and conveying the decisions of the Cabinet to the appropriate persons or authorities.
Having read the riot act to his Cabinet and other State officials that they would carry their own cross should they be found culpable of corruption, Ruto now finds himself in a quagmire over the action taken by CA against Chiloba.
The internal audit report has fingered Wanjau for gross misconduct on grounds that as the Director of Legal Services, she failed in her obligations to appropriately advise the authority as stipulated under her contract of service.
The report also recommended compulsory acquisition of Mortgage Insurance Protection by the Authority that will be subsequently charged upon the loanee (Wanjau).
Other officers fingered by the report include Ann Githaiga Kinyanjui, Beatrice Ongoche Bonga, Susan Naisiae Nkoiboni, Nancy Shiahale, Jeremiah Wasonga Alogo,Jane Jeptanui Rotich, Linet Onyando, Robin Busolo and Irene Jepchumba Kimeli.
Chiloba was on Monday suspended over alleged abuse of office and misuse of funds belonging to the authority’s mortgage scheme.
Reasons for Chiloba’s exit from CA became public as it emerged that the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has been undertaking investigations into irregularities in the mortgage scheme that have seen it lose hundreds of millions of shillings.
The audit indicates that Chiloba breached the obligations under his terms of service by applying for and individually approving a mortgage loan in contravention of the required procedure. It is alleged that the loan was to facilitate a transaction between him and another party.
Chiloba has been accused of conflict of interest when he allegedly allocated himself a house in Kitale, applying for and selfapproving a mortgage and gross misconduct among other misdeeds.
He was suspended by the CA board on Monday through an internal memo signed by chairperson Mary Mungai that also announced the appointment of Christopher Wambua in an acting capacity.
The Internal Audit and Risk Assurance Department at the CA and the Internal Auditor Department at the National Treasury and Economic Planning carried out an Internal Audit of the administration of the CA Staff Mortgage Scheme for the financial year 2022/23.
The report had recommended that disciplinary actions be undertaken against Chiloba for the gross abuse of the scheme administration.
Besides Chiloba and Wanjau, others the report found culpable are Juma Kandie (Human Resources), Joseph Kimanga (Finance), Rosalind Muriithi (Internal Auditor) and Japhet Odhiambo (acting Legal Services).
Chiloba, the report states, applied for and self-approved a mortgage loan to facilitate the purchase of property between himself and Jacob Simiyu Wakhungu, without subjecting the details of the transactionto interrogation and approval by a higher authority.
Chiloba is said to have purchased a house and land of seven acres, beyond the required one-acre limit in violation of the Civil Servants Housing scheme requirement.
The loan application was approved by a junior staff member and there is no evidence that the junior staff member carried out requisite due diligence and advice management, including the relationship between the seller and the buyer and the size of the property.
The Authority, according to the audit, remitted an amount of Sh25 million to Account Number 0180281053527 held at Equity Bank in the name of Kitale Hilmost Ltd as per the seller’s instructions contained in a letter dated December 5, 2022.
“Further interrogation to confirm the seller’s identity via a query through the Companies Registry revealed the sole director and shareholder of Kitale Hilmost Ltd as Ezra Chiloba Simiyu, who is also the buyer,” states the report.
It adds; “These actions amount to an offence in accordance with Section 41 and 42 of the EACC Act.”
He also faces accusations of clearing existing staff without review of mortgages being held causing financial exposure to CA of Sh28.8 million among them Wanjau, Daniel Kipngetich and Juma Kandie.
Other accusations include understating loan balances for former employees without factoring in the interest component thereby causing a risk of loss of funds totalling Sh1,060,520.66.
The audit team recommends compulsory acquisition of Mortgage Insurance Protection by the Authority that will be subsequently charged to the loanee.
Further, the loan will be reversed to market rates due to default by among others Wanjau who has defaulted five months owing the authority Sh19.9 million.
On Monday evening, Principal Secretary in the State Department of Broadcasting and Telecommunications Edward Kisiang’ani said he will probe Chiloba’s suspension.
During a TV interview, Kisiang’ani said he was privy to the suspension but had not been apprised of details. He said he will engage the CA board to establish the grounds upon which the decision was made.
“The Ministry does not micromanage the State corporations. They have their own boards, chairmen and other board members who make decisions almost on a daily basis but finally the ministry gets a report,” he said.
“The oversight is done by the board and once they realise that it is a mistake, they take quick decisions which now are communicated to us at the ministry level.”
He promised to issue a comprehensive statement on the matter later.
“I will see the details which forced them to take that decision and I have the authority to reverse it if I think that it is not done in the right way but for now we need guidance from the board to give us the details,” he said.
He, however, said he was privy to the investigations on the mortgage scheme but he had not been furnished with the findings.