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November 16, 2018

Court orders Central Bank to let EACC review NCPB accounts

Farmers and maize traders outside the EACC offices in Eldoret on Thursday /MATHEWS NDANYI
Farmers and maize traders outside the EACC offices in Eldoret on Thursday /MATHEWS NDANYI

An Eldoret court has ordered Central Bank of Kenya to allow the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to scrutiniSe NCPB accounts used to pay out  Sh8 billion to maize farmers and brokers.

Meanwhile, farmers in Rift Valley have welcomed the action taken by the EACC over those alleged to have been involved in the maize purchase scam at the NCPB.

“As long as due process is followed, we welcome the action taken hoping it would help to deter corruption at the NCPB,” Kenya Farmers Association director Kipkorir Menjo said.

Moiben MP Silas Tiren asked the EACC to go on with the probe and help break cartels that have messed NCPB.

In court, chief magistrate Charles Obulutsa directed that EACC forensic investigators be allowed to probe bank accounts for the Strategic Grain Reserve Trust Fund held in various banks.

The accounts are suspected to have been used to pay out most of the money to traders at the expense of more than 3,500 farmers who missed out on the money.

 Trust fund

The EACC obtained the orders pursuant to an application by Richard Kilimo who is a forensic investigator with the commission.

In an affidavit filed in court, Kilimo said they suspect NCPB officials colluded with cartels to facilitate fraudulent delivery of maize and payments unprocedurally.

“The accounts may have been used to pay out in excess of Sh8 billion to the cartels contrary to NCPB guidelines on grain intake operations,” Kilimo said.

The EACC, Kilimo said, suspects the maize was imported from outside the country and specifically Uganda.

Kilimo told Obulutsa the EACC suspects the money was paid through Strategic Grain Reserve Trust Fund account number 1000217189 held at Central Bank of Kenya.

Following the order, EACC will access valid documents associated to the account. The investigators will probe how the money was also channelled to accounts held by traders who imported the maize.

CBK has thus been ordered to release to the EACC various documents  including bank statements, account opening forms, banker’s books, mandate cards and instructions notes.

“We will require all the necessary documents for inspection as part of the investigations,” Kilimo said.

Obulutsa said he was satisfied with reasons given by the EACC officer seeking the orders.

 He granted the order for the purpose of investigation into the commission of an offence and added that it was necessary to allow the EACC officers to inspect the accounts.

Arrests

“This court is satisfied with the oath, I now authorise Richard Kilimo, an inspector with EACC, to investigate the necessary documents associated to the account in question in the period between July 1, 2017 to May 31, 2018,” Obulutsa said.

The traders who were paid are among suspects arrested in connection with the scandal at the NCPB.

Agriculture PS Andrew Lesiyampe and former NCPB CEO Newton Terer were among those arrested.

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