By Yvonne Chebeni, Kakamega
The Global Fund has demanded that the government refunds Sh40million which was stolen by officials from the Ministry of Health.
The money is part of the Sh3.2 billion grant that was given to Kenya to fight the spread of HIV/AIDs but which was misappropriated by the Ministry of Health. Global Fund now wants the money to be paid by May this year.
So far, the Ministry of Health has managed to pay back Sh5.4million out of the Sh7.6M that was stolen through fictitious printing services.
The money was embezzled between January 2018 and June 2021, when Nascop managed a Sh3.2 billion grant. From this budget, Nascop recorded a total of Sh180 million in hotel expenses involving 238 hotels. During the same period, it also recorded a total of Sh180 million as payments made for printing services
A report dated December 5, last year states that the national AIDS and STI’s control program staff, engaged in fraudulent and collusive practices during the hotel selection programme activities funded by the Global Fund.
Funds were manipulated due to poor segregation of duties where the former NASCOP procurement officer systematically faked quotation invoices from different hotels, he colluded with the hotels to receive forged and edited invoices to falsely simulate competitive procurement process.
He had edited at least 16 hotel quotations but NASCOP concluded contracts with 12, a total of Sh20.8 million.
Office of Inspector General sampled 14 hotel providers and they noticed seven instances where the losing hotel bidders confirmed that “in the quotations provided by NASCOP were related to the respective losing hotel bidders had been forged and did not originate from them. In addition, their prices were lower than the winning bidders”.
Non-transparent bank statements hampered and delayed the daily recommendation. Accountant falsified payment records to fraudulently printing vendors without delivering any services which took the bank approximately months to provide detailed statements with all beneficiary names.
The report stated that “Any charges made after the approval of the payment voucher and before its presentation to the bank could not be validated through bank statements. Therefore, manipulations easily went undetected.
“The former procurement officer explained his behavior by stating that at times the program activity deadlines were tight and there was not enough time to carry out an entire procurement process,” the report noted.
He further stated that in those instances he prepared documentation after the hotels had already been selected. He added that “He did not chance any quotation and used copies of quotations received before the relevant program activities were completed,” stated the letter
The audit also noted at least two instances when the former procurement officer received multiple quotations from two different hotels, enabling him to simulate competitive procurement processes. In both cases, hotels that submitted lower-priced quotations were not selected. A total of U$73.475 were paid to the two hotels are non-compliant and can be recoverable.
For one of the two hotels, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found editable quotations in the system of the former procurement officer where he had fabricated quotations from one of the two hotels then used the faked quotation to stimulate competitive procurement on other occasions.
The respective hotel representative confirmed to the OIG that “the quotation used on another occasion was forged and had not been provided by them.”
Former procurement officer admitted the wrongdoings stating that some instances he had used hotels as ‘agents’ receiving several quotations from them as bids in controlling process. He also said he acted on his own without any outside directions.