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How Man Lost Sh9M In CAS Job Scam

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The allure of State jobs with hefty salaries and chunky perks has spawned a vicious racketeering ring that is fleecing millions from individuals who think they are bribing their way into corner offices of Kenya’s parastatals.

Even before the dust settles on Robert Monda’s impeachment as Kisii deputy governor, partly over claims he nearly bankrupted a relative with the promise of securing a job, The Weekly Reviewhas established that high ranking officials from the same county are running a similar scam.

So brazen are the fraudsters that in some instances , they register new phone numbers in the names of senior government officials, such as Head of Public Service Felix Koskei, to hoodwink their prey into believing that bribes are being channeled to the right people in high places to facilitate plum jobs.

Perhaps of more concern, the racketeers have infiltrated some State corporations, whose staff use official emails to trick victims into thinking that they are being considered for corner office jobs. This, it turns out, is just bait to extract more bribes from the unsuspecting victims.

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James Abuki had grand dreams in October, 2022 after the Public Service Commission sought to fill Principal Secretary and Chief Administrative Secretary positions. The 54-year-old imagined he could land a CAS slot, which would become a stepping stone to the Cabinet and the presidency in future.

But those grand dreams have quickly become a nightmare as he has been left Sh9 million in the red, after borrowing extensively to pay “facilitation fees” to people he thought were senior civil servants close to President William Ruto, and who would catapult him into a corner office.

And police, in Abuki’s case, are seemingly reluctant to investigate his tribulations as his June, 2023 complaint to Kasarani Police Station is yet to elicit any investigation or response.

After seeing the PSC advertisements in October, 2022, Abuki approached an influential MP in the Kenya Kwanza administration to help him secure a nomination. Abuki met the legislator at a popular club in Nairobi in the company of three others, including a former TV journalist.

“I asked him to assist me secure one of the positions. He told me he could not promise a CAS job but he could push for an appointment as CEO of a parastatal, or an ambassadorial post, if I met some requirements. He asked for Sh500,000 right away,” Abuki told The Weekly Review.

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The MP was filling out club membership forms and asked Abuki to send Sh115,000 to the journalist, whom he introduced as his private aide. “I sent the money by MPesa and he told me to deliver the balance of Sh400,000 to his office.”

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On November 1, 2022, Abuki asked a friend to accompany him to the Parliament Buildings, where they were received by the journalist, who escorted them to the MP’s office.

“After I delivered the cash, we exchanged numbers and he then told me to WhatsApp him my CV. The MP said more facilitation would be needed. He also told me that I should always execute the journalist’s instructions, adding that the next move was to see the Head of Public Service. On why he didn’t want us to communicate directly, he said this was to avoid prying eyes from intelligence,” added Abuki.

The journalist would later introduce him to another aide of the MP, *Jacob, who told him that he was being considered for the position of Geothermal Development Company (GDC) chief executive officer.

“I later got a letter from GDC, inviting me to apply for the position of CEO. I submitted an application to accompany my CV, and gave it to the journalist to take it to the Head of Public Service’s office.”

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The MP’s team later registered a fake number under the name Felix Koskei, the Head of Public Service, through which money was to be channelled. “The journalist told me Sh800,000 was required as a facilitation fee at Koskei’s office, which I sent him through M-Pesa at various times as indicated in M-Pesa statements,” he said.

“The journalist later brought in another individual, a *Mr Koech, whom he introduced as Koskei’s private aide. I kept asking whether the MP was well briefed about this and the answer I was given was in the affirmative. I tried to reach the MP on the phone in vain.

“Koech told me that facilitation was required at the ministerial level and that two senior executives had to be facilitated to fast-track my appointment. One was to receive Sh500,000, while the other Sh300,000, which I delivered in cash.”

At the same time, one of Abuki’s friends reached out to a GDC board member to help push the bid. “The board member called me immediately. We talked about my application and he told me he would send his PA for some facilitation.”

Abuki was now dealing with chains of “facilitators” at every stage of the elaborate plot. “I was later called by a person who introduced himself as *George Chacha, the board member’s PA. He had been sent to pick Sh950,000 for the board members, which I also delivered in cash.

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The board member later called him and initially asked for what he told me was a negotiated figure of Sh1.2 million for a senior member of the executive, but this was later revised to Sh2 million, which I gave to the PA. The PA told me he delivered the money to the senior executive.”

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Abuki would later receive an email from the Human Resource and Administration Manager at GDC via [email protected], dated January 9, 2023, inviting him to an interview with the board. The email stated: “We believe that your skills and experience would be a valuable asset to GDC and we would be excited to have you join our team. If you are interested in this opportunity, please do not hesitate to apply and bring your hardcopy application on January 11, 2023, at 2pm, at Kawi House, South C, Bellevue, Popo Lane off Red Cross Road, Nairobi Kenya.”

On Thursday, TheWeekly Review visited GDC headquarters in South C for an audience with the board member after several attempts to reach him by phone and SMS proved futile. He was not in, so we sought an audience with the CEO, Paul Ngugi. He referred us to a senior manager who confirmed that the email belonged to the company but was not the one used for such correspondence.

[email protected] is indeed one of our email addresses but it is not used for such communication. In fact, the HR department does not use it. It was not, therefore, possible for the HR Manager to use it,” the manager disclosed. He promised to reach out to the CEO to help facilitate an audience with the board member over the allegations raised by Abuki.

On January 11, 2023, Abuki received another email rescheduling the interview to January 18, 2023, before another one followed, titled: ‘Time-Sensitive Request for Interview Documents.”

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“Before the interview, I received a call from GDC informing me that it had been rescheduled once again until February 8, when I received a regret through email,” said Abuki. It stated: “After conducting a comprehensive review of the available candidates and considering all relevant factors, we have decided to cancel the invitation for this role. While we were initially impressed by your skills and experience in the energy sector, it has become evident that your qualifications are no longer a suitable match for the current needs of our company.”

That’s when Abuki realised he had been taken for a ride. “I didn’t get the job. I have since been asking for refunds in vain.” The GDC board member avoided him for a while, but when Abuki eventually got him on a conference call, alongside his friend and the GDC HR manager, the man allegedly issued threats. “He threatened us with dire consequences. He said he didn’t know me. He also threatened my friend, sending characters to his home until he was forced to report at Kisii Police Station that his life was in danger,” offered Abuki.

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“I had even committed my vehicles’ log books to get most of the money and auctioneers are now on my neck.” One of the messages he received stated: “Dear James Abuki, your Sacco debt of Sh793,350.00 has been outsourced to auctioneers for recovery in full.” Abuki cannot pay school fees for his children and meet other basic needs. He was running a successful restaurant business, but it’s now performing poorly because resources were diverted. His world is crashing.

Abuki reported his tribulations at Kasarani Police Station in June last year, but to date, nothing has been forthcoming. He said that his efforts to pursue the matter at the station had stalled since nobody had been arraigned in court. “I reported there and even wrote a statement to that effect but I have never received any feedback,” he told The Weekly Review.

Cases of unsuspecting job seekers being swindled out of their hard-earned money have lifted the lid on the desperation of many Kenyans seeking employment.

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For instance, a Sh800,000 bribe for a job that never was — backed by mobile money trail — was at the heart of allegations that recently sunk Kisii Deputy Governor Robert Monda, less than two years into office. Senators voted to kick him out over various charges, including abuse of office charges.

In an emotional impeachment hearing punctuated with tears in February, the witness-in-chief, Dennis Mokaya, narrated how together with his father Joseph Misati, they met Dr Monda at his residence in Keumbu where an agreement was struck that they part with Sh800,000 in exchange for the vacant Gusii Water and Sanitation Company (Gwasco) commercial manager position.

At the May 28, 2023, meeting, said Mokaya, Sh500,000 was sent to the former Nyaribari Chache MP in tranches and the balance of Sh300,000 was to be delivered at the DG’s office at Gusii Stadium.

The transactions trail consisted of bank and mobile money exchanges to the tune of Sh500,000, with both Mokaya and Misati as the senders. “After leaving his residence, we had given him a sum of Sh500,000. We were to give him the remainder of Sh300,000 at his office the following day,” said Mokaya during the Senate hearing in February.

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