Financial Scandal Haunts Kenyan Swimming Federation

MAY 3. THE Kenyan Swimming Federation is in the middle of a major financial scandal and has compiled a sh1.3 million debt since 1998, according to a story by Omulo Okoth in the East African Standard. At the heart of the scandal is Ben Ekumbo, chairman of the KSF.

Paulin Raburu, a former treasurer for the Kenyan Swimming Federation, and John Opot, a longtime coach, have claimed that Ekumbo has manipulated financial statements for his own benefit. Raburu has indicated that FINA sent sh499,800 to Kenya in 2001 to assist in the nation’s participation in the World Championships, held in Fukuoka, Japan.

According to Raburu, parents of swimmers were still charged sh225,000 ($3,000) for airfare and living accommodations in Japan.

"When I detected that this money was in the bank and asked him about it, Ekumbo was furious and demanded to know how and why I went to the bank to get this information," said Raburu. “I was the treasurer of the federation, so although I had no access to check books and other vital documents, I had a right to know what was happening in the bank.

"He promised that we would discuss this matter later. After two weeks, he told me he had transferred the money to Japan to cater for our accommodation and that we would use part of it to buy stopwatches and public address system in Japan.”

Raburu said that she and one of her swimmers, Amanda Onyango, were forced to pay $3,026 for their trips to Japan and were not given receipts. She also said that the cost of hotels in Japan was lower than what Ekumbo had indicated, making the $3,000 cost extraordinary. Money that was promised to be refunded was not.

According to Raburu, Ekumbo had promised before the trip to Japan that the money from FINA would go to the purchase of stop watches and public-address systems. After shopping for that merchandise in Japan, Ekumbo said he forgot the money.

"The anti-corruption police noted there was a strong case of theft by servant, only to tell us later that we should sit down and discuss the matter among ourselves," Raburu claimed. “I was thrown out of the federation in January this year after officials were lured with goodies and trips to dispense with me due to my insistence to tackle the financial issues," she alleged.

"I have refused to keep quiet because there is serious financial mismanagement in the federation which the public must know," she said.

Raburu also discussed the Braeburn School and its deficit of $24,943. Raburu said the school hosted the African Junior Championships in 1998 and money was paid by visiting nations to Ekumbo. However, she said she never saw any of the money during her tenure as treasurer and no money was given to the Braeburn School.

The Braeburn School’s debt has not been paid to date and, according to Raburu, this was part of the reason why the federation changed its name from Amateur Swimming Association of Kenya to Kenya Swimming Federation, so that legally, it would be safe from the old debts. Raburu indicated that the KSF accounts have not been audited for four years due to Ekumbo’s preference for a specific auditing firm.

"I have refused to hand over the books of accounts to the firm because of what I can see as collusion between Ekumbo and the firm," Raburu said.