Theft of public funds by Kenya govt officials doubles to $1.4b

Sunday November 15 2020

Anti-corruption officials after a raid at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority in pursuit of evidence. PHOTO | FILE | NMG

The value of government funds stolen through corrupt deals in Kenya by state and public officers increased to Ksh140.2 billion ($1.4 billion) in 2019 from Ksh67.1 billion ($671 million) in 2017, according to the annual report by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP).

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration now faces a litmus test in taming endemic corruption in government as state and public officers are now targeting high value theft of public funds largely through irregular procurement and award of state contracts.

The report by the ODPP for the first time shows the value of government funds stolen through corrupt deals by Cabinet secretaries, principal secretaries, governors and senior county officials, deputy county commissioners and senior officials, members of county assembly (MCAs) and directors and chief executives of state-owned corporations.

In the first six months (January-June) of 2020, the government had lost Ksh1.24 billion ($12.4 million) to corrupt state and public officers.

The annual report that captures the year 2017 to 2020, shows that while the value of stolen funds keep on increasing, the number of registered corruption cases has been declining from 58 in 2017 to 26 in 2019 and two during the first six months of this year (2020), implying that corrupt individuals and cartels are now targeting large sums of government funds.

It is estimated that the government loses 30 percent of its annual budget to corruption, leading to persistent budget deficits and borrowing to finance government operations and fund development programmes.


According to the report, high impact corruption cases — involving large sums of money, senior government officials (state and public offers) or cases of significant public interest —totalled 135 cases involving more than Ksh224 billion ($2.24 billion) pending before court as at June 30 2020.

The report shows that at least 57 percent of these cases were registered in court between January 2018 and June 2020 while 43 percent were registered before 2018.

Cases registered from 2018 to June 2020 involved over Ksh157 billion ($1.57 billion) whereas cases registered in 2017 and before involved about Ksh67 billion ($670 million).

According to the report, the fight against corruption continued to be a key focus area for the ODPP from January 2018 to June 2020 where a total of 220 cases were registered in court and prosecution ensued.

A total of 26 cases were registered as at June 30, while 78 and 116 cases were registered in 2019 and 2018 respectively.

The report notes that a total of 238 corruption cases have been concluded to date of which 20 cases were concluded by June 30 2020, while 103 cases and 115 cases were concluded in 2019 and 2018 respectively.

On the other hand, the ODPP saw a progressive increase in conviction rate obtained during the period under review to a remarkable rate of 63.16 per cent in the first half of 2020.

“This is a clear illustration of the concerted effort put by the Office in collaboration with stakeholders in the three years in the fight against graft,” according to the report.

During the three-year period 53 cases involving top government officials were registered. These included Cabinet secretaries and principal secretaries (seven cases), governors and senior county officials (11 cases), directors and chief executive of parastatals (22), deputy county commissioner and senior officials (one case) and members of county assembly (five).

The incidence of corruption in ODPP report confirms what has been captured elsewhere. According to the Corruption Perception Index 2019 report published by Transparency International, in East Africa, Kenya and Uganda tie in third position, after South Sudan and Burundi as the most corrupt countries in the region.

Rwanda is rated the least corrupt country in the region and the only EAC state to score above the global average rate of 43 out of 100 points after garnering 53 points.

Tanzania with 37 points was ranked the second least corrupt country in East Africa.

Kenya and Uganda scored 28 points, Burundi (19) and South Sudan only (12) points.

The CPI report measures the perceived levels of corruption in the public sector, drawing on 13 expert assessments and surveys of business executives.