Laikipia County contractors are seeking payments of up to Sh700 million based on fake bills, governor Ndiritu Muriithi told the Senate yesterday.

Only Sh490 million out of the Sh1.2 billion that contractors and suppliers are claiming is genuine, he told the Senate’s County Public Accounts and Investments Committee.

An audit of pending bills that he ordered upon taking over office in August 2017 revealed the fictitious claims, Mr Muriithi told the committee chaired by Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang.

“There was a major variance in what was allegedly delivered and what was billed,” Mr Muriithi said when he appeared before Senators who had issued summonses for his appearance to answer audit queries raised by Auditor- General Edward Ouko for the year to June 2015.

The pending bills claims and the audit queries accrued during the tenure of his predecessor, Joshua Irungu, who lost to Mr Muriithi in the August 4, 2017 General Election.

Mr Muriithi told Senators that some of the projects that the contractors are claiming payment for are non-existent on the ground.

He said the audit team established that the county had received bills worth Sh23.8 million for non-existent projects and fictitious supplies.

“This meant the county was basically billed for supply of air. I have therefore invited officials from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to probe all officers who allowed the variance of prices of goods and services supplied,” he told Mr Kajwang.

The county boss told Senators Kimani Wamatangi (Kiambu), Sam Ongeri(Kisii), Charles Kibiru (Kirinyaga) and Millicent Omanga (nominated) that the audit had recommended that a forensic audit be further undertaken on goods and services that were supplied with a variance of 25 per cent over and above the actual market prices.

He said his administration has formed a directorate to find out assets and liabilities that the county owns.

“The directorate which is three months old now will identify and compile a list of all assets the county has and even tag and mark them. This will be the only way to know what we have,” Mr Muriithi said.