Former Kenya National Examination Council chairman Paul Wasanga is alleged to have received kickbacks amounting to Sh703,785 for every year that he awarded tenders for printing of examination documents to British firm Smith and Ouzman.
The damning allegations surfaced in an ongoing fraud case before the Southwark Crown Court in London, UK where the firm is accused of unduly influencing tendering processes for organisations in foreign countries.
This is in contravention of the European nation’s Prevention of Corruption Act (1906) which bars undue influence on employees of foreign governments to have decisions made in favour of British businesses.
Former KNEC chairman Paul Wasanga
Although the prosecution lawyers and the forensic experts from the Serious Fraud Office who have pressed the charges are yet to establish how many years Wasanga received the kickbacks, they have said that in 2009 and 2010 alone, the Kenya government through the Ministry of Education paid a Sh40 million to Smith and Ouzman for Optical Mark Reader forms used in KCPE examinations, certificates, photo collection forms and mark sheets.
“The corrupt payments were built into Smith and Ouzman’s pricing of the printed materials so that the inflation in the price as a result of that corruption was passed onto those funding the institutions that contracted with Smith and Ouzman,” prosecution lawyers said according to court documents.
In the duration of the dealings between Knec and Smith and Ouzman, the court was also furnished with details of Wasanga’s annual trips to the UK, fully paid for by the printing firm to maintain a work relationship.
The court documents further detail proceedings in which prosecution said that Knec officials Mwai Nyaga the deputy CEO, Geoffrey Gitogo the ICT manager, Ephraim Wanderi and Michael Ndua the principal supplies officer each received Sh90,000 to facilitate the awarding of the tenders.
Smith and Ouzman’s country agent Trevy James Oyombra received authorisation from the firm’s top brass, which was mainly the former chairman Christopher Smith and his son Nick Smith the sales and marketing director, to pay the Knec officials after receiving payment for the examination documents.
The court also heard how Smith and Ouzman extended the gratuity payments and gestures to the family of the Knec officials, a thing which Christopher Smith said was above board as they were gifts given to the families of friends.
“There is nothing wrong in giving gifts to a friend. It was, however, no coincidence that the gifts to Wanderi’s son were made at the time Smith and Ouzman were on a drive to get back the business with Knec which they had lost,” the prosecutor told the court.