Kenya arrests youth service officials, charging theft of funds, media reports

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenyan authorities arrested the head of the National Youth Service as part of an investigation into a theft of nearly $ 100 million, media reported on Monday.

The Chief Prosecutor of Kenya said that the prosecution would begin immediately with all the suspects named in an investigation by the Director of Criminal Investigation, although those names have not yet been made public.

Citizen Television and K24 TV, privately owned, reported that the youth agency official, Richard Ndubai, had been arrested, along with an unspecified number of officials.

Citizen TV indicated the number of arrested at 16 years. He reported that Lillian Mbogo-Omollo, a senior civil servant of the public services service for youth and gender, had surrendered to the police in the company of her lawyers.

Kenyan media have claimed that 10 billion shillings ($ 99 million) have been stolen through fictitious invoices and multiple payments on a vendor invoice in the State of New York.

Reuters was unable to contact Ndubai, who is in custody, for comment, and was unable to contact his lawyer immediately for comment.

Despite President Uhuru Kenyatta's promises to eradicate grafts when he was first elected in 2013, critics say he has been slow to pursue senior officials. Only big convictions will break what they call a culture of impunity, they say.

Reports have shocked many Kenyans, especially as they follow the agency's 2015 scandal, which aims to equip young Kenyans with key skills and help create jobs.

Last week, investigators called more than 40 people, including Ndubai, to question them about the lost funds.

The Office of the Director of the Prosecutor's Office said that he had grounds to initiate legal proceedings against all of them.

"The DPP has independently reviewed all the files of the investigations related to the ongoing investigations in #NYS and has initiated the prosecution immediately against all the named suspects," the office said in its Twitter account.

The director of the prosecutor asked Reuters to call later for comments. The calls to the director of criminal investigations received no response.

Kenyatta has blamed the slow progress in the fight against corruption in the lethargy of some government agencies responsible for eradicating the graft.

In 2016, the then head of the Kenya anti-graft agency said that Kenya was losing one third of its state budget, the equivalent of about $ 6 billion, to corruption every year.

While the Ministry of Finance argued that the losses were so great, blaming instead the lack of documentation, Kenyatta acknowledged then that corruption had reached levels that threatened national security.

Report of George Obulutsa and Maggie Fick, edition of Larry King


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