Kenyan authorities have arrested the head of the National Youth Service, Richard Ndubai, following investigation into a theft of nearly $100 million, the country’s media reported on Monday.
The head of criminal investigations said 17 people were in custody, though none of the individuals have been publicly named.
Kenya’s chief prosecutor said prosecution would begin immediately all the suspects have been rounded.
Citizen TV added that a top official at the ministry of public service, youth and gender services, Lillian Mbogo-Omollo, had surrendered to the police in the company of her lawyers.
It is understood that the theft were made via fictitious invoices and multiple payments on one supplier invoice at the youth service.
Despite President Uhuru Kenyatta’s pledges to stamp out graft when he was first elected in 2013, critics say he has been slow to pursue top officials, and there’s a feeling that only big-name convictions will break the culture of impunity.
Many Kenyans are reportedly dismayed by the stunning theft, particularly as they follow a 2015 scandal at the agency set up to equip Kenya’s young people with key skills and help create jobs.
The Director of Public Prosecution said it had grounds to start court proceedings against all of them.
“The DPP has independently reviewed all the Inquiries Files related to the ongoing Investigations at #NYS and has directed prosecution commences immediately against all the named suspects,” the office said on Twitter.
Kenya reportedly loses a third of its state budget – the equivalent of about $6 billion – to corruption every year, and President Kenyatta has acknowledged that corruption had reached levels that threatened national security.