Family Health Options Kenya (FHOK) executive director (ED) Edward Marienga has been accused of embezzling institution funds amounting to millions, Kahawa Tungu can authoritatively report.
According to an audit report in our possession, Mr Marienga and the Director of Finance and Administration (DFA) have been receiving kickbacks from the institution’s suppliers.The two even admitted that they had been receiving favours from suppliers.
“The ED informed us that they normally receive gifts from suppliers in the form of additional items (i.e., free gifts) or 10% of the contract amount in cash. The DFA informed us that he received a “token of appreciation” from a supplier when they received payment for a consignment of
commodities purchased from them,” the audit report notes in part.
In one instance, one supplier received payments for the supply of commodities, including contraceptives, which were apparently never delivered. In the period from January 1, 2017 to April 30, 2020, the supplier was paid a total of Ksh7,554,275.
The audit by A&K Forensics Investigators found that on March 18, 2019, FHOK made a payment of Ksh1 million to the supplier through two instalments of Ksh500,000 each. This payment was for the supply of contraceptives which we understand were never delivered.
Instead a refund of Ksh900,000 was made in cash to the FHOK Procurement Officer. The balance of Ksh100,000 was retained by the supplier to cover “bank charges” as explained by the Procurement Officer.
“It appears the Procurement Officer utilised the Ksh900,000 to procure contraceptives from Accord (Ksh315,060) and Mission for Essential Drugs & Supplies (MEDS) (Ksh584,413). We obtained additional evidence showing that the supplier may have made additional cash payments to the DFA and the ED. The ED informed us that he received money from suppliers who typically gave 10 percent of the value of purchases made either in cash or additional items. He further informed us that the DFA may have received Ksh700,000 from one of the suppliers in July of 2019,” added the report.
In another instance, FHOK paid Ksh5.3 million for an imaging equipment worth Ksh5.3 million from Motivate Café, that was never delivered, despite the procurement officer signing the delivery notes for the same.
“The Procurement Officer further informed us that he was requested to acknowledge receipt of the same by the DFA to facilitate the payments to a supplier,” added the report.
It was also discovered that Marienga was a director of the company, which amounted to conflict of interest. Between January 1, 2016 to 31 December 2019, Motivate Café received a total of Ksh10 million from FHOK for the supply of various items, including medical imaging machines and IT equipment.
“We established that Motivate Café, a social enterprise sponsored by IPPF-Sri Lanka, was irregularly registered under the names of three FHOK employees who included the ED and the DFA,” added the auditors.
Between January 1, 2018 to April 30, 2020, another taxi company received a total of Ksh5.3 million from FHOK for taxi services. Various individuals in the finance team including the DFA and Mr Marienga could not justify why a significant amount of outsourced taxi services, despite the company having several vehicles.
Mr Marienga received an irregular advance amounting to Ksh7.5 million from the FHOK Equity
bank account, according to the report.
“This advance was not authorised by the Board contrary to the stipulated procedures in the FHOK HR policy. In addition to the Ksh 7.5 million, a further Ksh0.5 million was transferred from the FHOK Equity bank account on 9 February 2017 and deposited into the DFA’s personal account. The DFA informed us that he later deposited the money into the ED’s account and provided a deposit slip to evidence the same. The DFA informed us that this amount was never accounted for although the ED had informed him that it was for a project visit,” added the report.
Mr Marienga had only repaid Ksh1 million of the loan at the time of the investigation.
In the the Global Gag Rule (GGR) project, FHOK received Ksh15.4 million from IPPF, but about Ksh8.5 million was not transferred into the GGR project account. Also, Ksh573,760 was not spent on project-related activities.
It was also discovered that out of the purported 13 attendees of the ‘Visit to the Homa Bay First Lady’ event under the Danish Family Planning Association (DFPA) project were fictitious. The total amount charged to the project for this mission was Ksh195,000.
During the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, Mr Marienga authorised a payout of Ksh1.29 million worth of allowances to about 12 employees in April and May 2020. However, the allowances are irregular because some of the recipients had transport allowances paid every month.
Mr Marienga is also accused of transferring staff as a way of punishing them for not following his instructions.
FHOK also purchased land in Malindi in the last quarter of 2019 without conducting any due diligence or valuation of the land. In addition, it was established that FHOK does not have a title deed for the land.
In June, Marienga was suspended when the investigations started but Kahawa Tungu has learned that he has been meeting board members while still in suspension, trying to convince them to influence the outcome of the audit.
“The whole of July we had strategic meetings supported by Marienga to disorganise the investigations, month of August was the peak we could meet in town and plan the best move. All along Marienga did not inform us the truth about the allegations unfortunately we believed him. The board was split between those supporting him and those against, Marienga incited us to fight the process used to initiate the investigations. He never told us the nature of the allegations,” one of the board members who sought anonymity told Kahawa Tungu.