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Ex-Tourism CS Najib Balala under investigation for alleged Sh8.5 billion fraud

By Nyaboga Kiage December 22nd, 2023 2 min read

Former Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala is currently being investigated by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) over allegations that he fraudulently obtained Sh8.5 billion.

The investigation also implicates his then Principal Secretary Leah Gwiyo, accusing her of abuse of office.

The EACC alleges that during Balala’s tenure, the Tourism Fund illegally disbursed Sh8.5 billion for the construction of Ronald Ngala Utalii College in Kilifi County.

The commission alleges that Gwiyo obtained public funds through fraudulent means.

“Investigations revealed that the Cabinet in its memo signed by the Minister for Tourism on May 22, 2007 and the Minister for Finance on August 20, 2007 approved the construction of Utalii College in Vipingo at a cost of Ksh1.948 billion,” the EACC said in a report.

Nairobi News understands that the anti-graft body handed over the case file to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) two weeks ago.

Also read: EACC recovers Sh47m in stolen funds from Homa Bay County Assembly

The ODPP is now expected to decide whether to approve charges against Balala and his associates or send the file back to the EACC for further investigation.

The investigation revealed that private consultants hired by the Tourism Fund cost taxpayers Sh8.6 billion for drawings and designs of the college.

The contractor for the project is identified as Mulji Devral and Brothers Company.

Balala had previously promised that construction of the college, which sits on 40 acres of land, would be completed by the end of 2019.

The project was initially under the Kenya Utalii College, but was later transferred to the Ministry of Tourism.

The proposed state-of-the-art complex is expected to provide additional facilities to relieve pressure on the Nairobi-based Utalii College, including modern kitchens, a sports complex and conference facilities. All eyes are now on the ODPP to decide on possible charges against Balala and his associates.