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The Audit Team

Jabali works for the National Audit Office in Nairobi as an auditor. During a Senate hearing, it was noted that there were anomalies in the account books for Ukweli County Government. The Senate Committee recommended a thorough audit of the County’s books by the National Audit Office. A team was constituted by the Attorney General, led by Jabali, to visit the County and audit the books.

On arrival in the County on Sunday evening, Jabali and his colleagues checked into their hotels and decided to hang out at a local club before the audit exercise the next day. During their ‘outing’ they made friends with various people and interacted freely until the early hours of the morning.

On visiting Ukweli Countu headquarters at around 9.00am on Monday morning, they meet the Governor and, after pleasantries, were ushered into the work station to commence their audit work.

When they called for the relevant documentation and files, one of the officers who brings the material is Mr Mambo, whom they had spent time with during the previous evening. Mr Mambo reminisced about the ‘exciting evening’ they had had with the auditors, showing them photos taken with various members of the team on his phone. One photo in particular showed Jabali, who was wearing a branded National Audit Office tee-shirt, appearing rather intoxicatd and holding a beer bottle. While they were working, Juma – a cousin of one of the auditors who runs a taxi business, came to the work area to serve them tea. Juma had dropped Jabali and his team back at the hotel at the end of their outing!

In the evening, when Jabali and his team return to their hotel, they learn that their hotel accommodation and related expenses have been fully paid. Later, Juma collects Jabali and the team for a tour of various high-end clubs together with Mr Mambo and other officials from Ukweli County. All expenses were paid for by Ukweli County officials. Upon inquiry by the auditors, they were informed that the costs were part of the hospitality and entertainment budget allocated to the county for guests.

In finalizing the audit report, the auditors observed that there were several glaring anomalies in the financial management of the County. However, the report they submitted declared that Ukweli County had a clean bill with all funds fully accounted for. Upon return to Nairobi, the auditors submitted per-diem claims to the office and provided ‘official’ receipts for taxi services (provided by Juma) as expenses incurred during their work visit to Ukweli County.

When the report as presented to the Senate Committee, there was uproar ad disapproval, both from County residents and from the current senator of Ukweli County. Subsequently the Senate sought approval, which was granted, to engage a private audit firm to audit the books. They produced a contrary report revealing extensive mismanagement and rampant theft of County funds.

Who should be held accountable for the misappropriation of County funds?

Who is responsible for the poor first report – The Attorney General or the Audit team?

What integrity issues emerge from this scenario?

How can public officials protect themselves from issues of conflict of interests?

Which codes, policies, laws have been infringed by the Audit Team?

What dilemmas faced the auditor who was Juma’s relative during the audit tour? And how might he have handled the identified dilemmas.

How could this scenario be addressed without necessarily engaging a private audit firm?