Anti-corruption commission officials have secretly obtained a court order to access the personal bank accounts of Auditor-General Edward Ouko in an intriguing revelation that puts a new twist to investigations of alleged corruption, nepotism and abuse of office by the official.
The Nation has learnt that the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) obtained an ex-parte court order (given without the presence of Mr Ouko) on June 24 to investigate the Auditor-General’s accounts dating back to January 2012.
“Now, [B]I authorise Kariuki Waweru, an investigator with EACC or other investigator duly appointed by the applicant, by this warrant to investigate the said accounts and to require the production for his scrutiny of any such bank book/B, original cheques, account opening documents, bank statements from January 1, 2012 to May 24, 2016, both soft and hard copies, mandate cards, EFT instruction letters, disbursement authorisations, schedules and statements and to take copies of any relevant entry or matter in such books,” the ex-parte order of June 24 reads.
Sources say investigators have since been approaching managers in banks where Mr Ouko conducts private transactions seeking details. Mr Ouko has, in the last few years, been the subject of criticism from Jubilee politicians who accuse him of releasing reports questioning expenditure that give the Opposition ammunition to attack the government.
But the criticism took a dramatic turn last month during a State House summit on corruption and governance when President Uhuru Kenyatta told Mr Ouko off for planning to visit America’s Federal Reserve Bank to investigate how the Eurobond money was spent. A few days later, reports emerged that EACC commissioners had rejected recommendations to prosecute Mr Ouko over alleged procurement irregularities.
Chief Executive of the commission Halakhe Waqo confirmed to the Nation that they are investigating the Office of the Auditor-General. But he denied they were targeting Mr Ouko or “any other individual”.
“Yes, there is an investigation since 2013 following accusations of theft of over Sh100 million. But we are not targeting any one individual. We are investigating many officers in the Kenya National Audit Office and other institutions as well. So what’s so special about the Auditor-Generals’ office? As far as EACC is concerned, all investigations are equal and we do not treat any of them as more important than the other,” he said.
Mr John Githongo, a former anti-corruption chief in former President Mwai Kibaki’s office, said the investigation is not surprising.
"Mr Ouko and the Office of the Auditor General have been the victims of systematic harassment for some time. This is usually indicative of their effectiveness. The integrity of the OAG is such that they wouldn’t worry about this unless there is a systematic effort to cook up evidence against them," said Mr Githongo.
He believes that the harassment arises from the independence of his office and the sensitivity of some of its investigations which have caused political discomfort.
“In Kenya’s history Auditors- General have been starved of funds and harassed when their work has stopped powerful people from stealing or made it difficult to cover-up the evidence of theft,” said Mr Githongo, adding that he hopes the government machinations against Mr Ouko won’t succeed.
Besides Mr Ouko’s personal accounts, EACC has also written to the Auditor-General informing him that they are interested in looking at the personnel recruitment in the Kenya National Audit Office since he assumed office. The investigations are in addition to a technology procurement issue the commission has been investigating since 2013.
Despite the scolding from the Head of State, Mr Ouko is understood to have eventually travelled to New York about two weeks ago to follow the trail of the Sh280 billion raised from the Eurobond.