Examining the Impact of Bribery on Public Trust in Government Officials

Halakhe Waqo

Controversy has rocked the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) over the flawed recruitment process of its top leadership.

According to insider information, the compromised CAK Board has submitted a list of three candidates for consideration as Director General.

Top of their consideration is the disgraced Halakhe Waqo, a former EACC executive, has been accused of using illegal resources to bribe his way into the position.

“One of the Board members Mr. Abdi Mohammed one of the Board members was the main distributing cash in millions during the interviews held at Ole Sereni Hotel. A special room had been booked in addition to the interview rooms to facilitate money exchange,” a whistleblower said.

The compromised Board is said to have waived a mandatory requirement for a Leadership or Management certificate, allowing Waqo to be included in the shortlisting.

The Competition Act requires a Director General with competition experience, but the Board refused to honor this requirement. The top candidate for the HR Manager position was influenced by her relations with top government officials. The Board’s activities have been criticized for their corruption, even claiming mileage allowance while traveling from their Nairobi homes.

The corporation secretary, who was recently promoted to director, has also been accused of enabling the board to run the authority corruptly.

Waqo would come in with vast experience in corruption. His tenure at EACC was riddled with controversies including bribery claims made on him and ran a totally toothless anti-graft agency.

Kemsa Scandal

For those who don’t know, the former anti corruption boss was adversely mentioned in the Kemsa saga that saw taxpayers lose billions to tenderprenuers at a time when the pandemic was crashing the economy.

Waqo was in March 2021 probed by a parliament committee following revelations by Ms Zubeda Nyamlondo, a director of Aszure Commercial Services a company implicated in a Sh347M scandalous tender to supply facemasks to the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa).

Waqo’s name popped up following a sustained probing by the committee members for the witness to provide details of ownership and how the firm sourced for funds to finance such large contract having only done business worth Sh8 million in the previous years.

Waqo confirmed to the that he was a loan guarantor to tge furniture supplies company that won a Sh347 million tender to supply facemasks to Kemsa.

He told the parliamentary committee that he had been approached by a manager at First Community Bank (FCB) – where he and directors of the firm are customers – whether he could provide security to a loan Aszure Commercial Services had sought to finance the Kemsa deal.

Unconvinced that Waqo was merely a loan signatory, the committee summoned Mr Waqo to establish whether he is the faceless owner of Aszure Commercial Services and only fronted Ms Nyamlondo to hoodwink the public.

The lawmakers also wanted to establish why the company, which had an account at Kenya Commercial Bank, decided to go to First Community Bank(FCB) for a loan.

After taking his time, his answers during the grilling painted a clearer picture of a larger conspiracy that did not only involve proxy managers but included bank officials from FCB and put Waqo right in the middle as the major stakeholder.

Waqo denied direct links to the firm.

And this is where it gets suspicious and puzzling, Waqo told the parliamentary committee that he had been approached by a manager at First Community Bank (FCB) where he and directors of the firm are customers whether he could provide security to a loan Aszure Commercial Services had sought to finance the Kemsa deal.

MPs were puzzled as to the nature of relationship that Waqo holds with the bank that the manager had the confidence to approach him as a guarantor and more so what was the bank’s interest in sourcing for a guarantor for a customer. In a normal setting, the customer approaches the bank for a loan with a guarantor in hand. The complex relationship between the bank, Waqo and the firm left more questions than answer as to the bigger common interest of all the three parties.

MPs question that wasn’t answered was why Aszure didn’t seek a loan from KCB where the firm hold its accounts and instead went for FCB. It is unconvincing that Waqo would fund a project for people whom he doesn’t know only relying on the bank’s managers word which also leaves a lot to speculate about their depth of relationship. One can certainly tell who the faceless owner of Aszure Commercial Services is.

FCB is associated with Senior Counsel Ahmednasir Abdulahi and others claim that Waqo too holds stakes in the bank.

And more scandals

In 2014, EACC put the president in an embarrassing situation when it handed him a list of alleged thieves which he presented to parliament during his state of the nation address.

Most of those mentioned were never prosecuted due to lack of evidence.

At one time an infuriated Uhuru on learning the wild goose chase that the commission had sent him on publicly dressed down Waqo at a State House function.

“We Waqo wewe ulinisimamisha hapo mbele ya bunge nikafuta mawaziri…mpaka wa leo, after two years hujaniambia where their guilt is,” the president lambasted him.

Waqo was severally mentioned by bloggers as a very corrupt guy who doesn’t hesitate to take kickbacks to go slow on investigations. His hate to questioning bloggers would see him having Robert Alai charged for questioning his academic credentials.

In 2018, Mr Waqo was accused of receiving a Sh300 million bribe from 2015/2016 National Youth Service (NYS) scandal suspects

The bribe was allegedly received to cover the names of several governors and a Cabinet Secretary listed in the graft.

According to Adan Guracha, the then EACC lead detective in the scandal, Waqo used the proceeds to build a six-storey building in Isiolo town.

In a sworn affidavit, Guracha also revealed how Mr Waqo ordered him to discontinue investigations into the fraudulent compensation of the Lamu Coal-fired Power Generation project in 2017.

“When he tabled information linking Dido and Sons limited to the fraudulent pay of over Ksh100 million, Waqo intimidated him and directed him to handle other cases,” the affidavit read.

While Waqo’s path with scandals remain in plain sight, he was appointed Chairperson of the Universities Fund Board on his exit from the anti graft commission which came in the heights of many having lost confidence in the commission.

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