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scholarship fraud in Uasin Gishu, 3 county officials withdrew millions in cash
22/03/2023 22:24 in National News

According to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) investigations, three of the four public employees tasked with overseeing the Uasin Gishu Overseas Education Trust scholarship fund removed a total of Ksh.38.5 million from the account in cash.


Citizen Digital has learned that the anti-graft agency is now attempting to recoup the funds from three officials: Joseph Maritim, Joshua Lelei, and Meshack Rono, who were named as signatories to the Uasin Gishu Overseas Education Trust scholarship bank account when it was launched on March 21, 2021.


According to the EACC, Joseph Maritim, Joshua Lelei, Meshack Rono, and Joel Ruto were in command of the fund, although any two of them had to sign as signatories to make withdrawals.

Meshack Rono, the county's Director for Education, is said to have withdrawn the most money from the account, Ksh.18,363,689, followed by Maritim, the county's Chief Officer Education, who allegedly withdrew Ksh.14,486,700, and Lelei, the county's Chief Officer, Vocational Training, who allegedly withdrew Ksh.5,683,400.



"The Commission is seeking the Ksh.38,533,789.00 that the signatories of the Uasin Gishu Overseas Education Trust withdrawn in cash in Kenya," the records state.


The account is alleged to have collected a total of Ksh.837,855,889 from 111 students who travelled to Finland to study various degrees at various institutions and colleges between May 2021 and December 2022. The learning institutions were intended to be paid from the bank account of the Uasin Gishu Overseas Education Trust Scholarship.


Tampere University received Ksh.113,750,634 out of the total Ksh.837,855,889 collected, while the rest received the following amounts: JAMK University (Ksh.657,500), Northernlights University (Ksh.5,023,480), Elimu University (Ksh.3,249,220), LUT University (Ksh.6,552,000), SCI Stenberg (Ksh.7,570,500), Edu (Ksh.2,196,000).


Concerning the monies transported to Finland, EACC states that it is conducting "an in-depth and exhaustive inquiry to determine whether the money reached the institutions or was embezzled."


The preliminary findings also show that the County Government of Uasin Gishu has no budget for overseas scholarships, but an MOU has been signed between the County Government and Tampere University of Finland to offer scholarship opportunities to students/parents who are willing and able to cover the entire cost of their studies.


According to documents obtained by Citizen Digital, "the parents were to contribute the school fees and other fees to the trust account, and the signatories were then supposed to send the money to Tampere University of Applied Sciences."


The programme was designed to support students pursuing tertiary education in Finland between 2021 and 2022.


The programme, however, came under public scrutiny after it was revealed that a number of the students who flew to Finland had already been deported back to Kenya, and that others had received deportation notices for failing to pay school fees despite depositing money into the trust account as required.


Uasin Gishu governor Jonathan Bii has since suspended officials implicated in the scholarship scandal, while assuring students that the impasse will be resolved to ensure continuation of learning.

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