Detectives are investigating claims that some Kenya Power employees infiltrated the company’s billing system to embezzle Sh1 billion.
On the spotlight is the pre-paid token generation and the postpaid bill, which the tech-savvy employees are said to have manipulated to divert the State Corporation’s revenue into their own pockets.
The employees are said to have connived to generate extra tokens or create loopholes that facilitated the sale of genuine tokens in the black market.
An insider revealed that with the knowledge of the system, the employees under investigation were able to generate tokens sold cheaply to third party merchants at the expense of the company.
SEE ALSO :Power users renew Sh10b refund case
With the knowledge of the integrated customer management system, the suspects, most of whom are from the IT department, are also said to have tampered with its operations to alter bills by lowering them at the expense of the company.
In the process, the staff are said to have pocketed money to assist in “clearing the system and also generate pre-paid tokens”. There has been public uproar over cases of inflated customer bills and questions about varying quantities of pre-paid tokens.
To tie the loose ends in the nearly one month’s investigations, detectives are seeking court’s intervention to access the systems involved and also warrants to search the suspects’ houses in what could be another scam involving the power supplier.
Five employees in the IT department have already been suspended by the company and are under investigation.
SEE ALSO :Tokens vendor handed contract
Kiambu Senior Principal Magistrate Stella Atambo has granted the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) permission to search the homes of the five employees implicated in the scandal.
Juliet Kimwei, attached to DCI headquarters Serious Crimes Unit, made an application for a search warrant.
Ms Kimwei, the investigating officer, told Kiambu Senior Principal Magistrate Stella Atambo that she was probing a case of conspiracy to defraud the company by the said staff.
She told the court that the staff, through the firm’s integrated customer management system, are alleged to have embezzled Sh1 billion by manipulating the said system.
“It is believed the five mentioned staff abused their special rights as IT experts in the integrated customer management system to fraudulently embezzle funds that belong to the company,” she told the court.
SEE ALSO :Address Moyale power outages, State told
The investigating officer also informed the court that the five workers are believed to have logged into the company’s integrated customer management system remotely, during odd hours and away from the office, to manipulate bills in favour of some company customers. They are also suspected to have interfered with token generation.
In the application, the investigation officer noted that the purpose of the search is to recover any electronic gadgets or material valuable to the investigations.
Prosecution counsel Christine Mbevi supported the application by the officer, saying the five staff abused their special rights as IT experts to fraudulently embezzle the money.
The magistrate gave an order granting the detective the search warrant.
“I, therefore, authorise Juliet Kimwei an investigator from DCI headquarters, Serious Crimes Unit, by this warrant to search the said premises, and to require the production for her scrutiny or any evidence relevant to the investigation,” Ms Atambo said in her ruling.
She also directed that the case to be mentioned on April 17, when the court will be informed on the outcome of the investigations.
The Standard learnt that management decided to involve the investigation agencies after an internal inquiry indicated that the company could have lost money through manipulation of systems.
An insider revealed to The Standard that heads started rolling last month after the board sanctioned the suspension of the employees suspected of masterminding the theft.
When the matter of suspension came up late last month, Kenya Power CEO Jared Omondi confirmed that the issue was under investigation.
“I cannot comment on this issue at the moment since there’s active investigation going on. I’m currently out of the country,” said Omondi on phone from the US at the time.
Reliable sources intimated that the racket has been going on since 2010, raising fears that more money could have been lost.
A company employee who cannot be named to protect him, said the audit indicated that initially small proportions of cash were stolen before it gradually grew into a serious venture involving the employees and some outsiders.
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options.
This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.
The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.
The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.
The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).
The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.
The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour; Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).
The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.
Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”
He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.