US keeps close tabs on graft investigations in Kenya

The United States is keeping a watch list of high-profile political and business leaders being investigated for corruption, its envoy said on Tuesday.

Kyle McCarter, the US ambassador to Kenya, said his office is keeping close tabs on investigations and prosecutions of persons suspected to have been involved in graft.

“In fact, on my desk I keep a copy of the printed list of all investigations currently ongoing,” Mr McCarter told a meeting of editors in Nairobi. “I will stand firm against corruption and impunity and so must you,” he challenged Kenyans, reiterating that the war should not be left to the prosecution and the government alone.

Anti-graft push

The government revamped its anti-graft push this year led by Chief Public Prosecutor Noordin Haji, a former deputy head of national intelligence, and director of criminal investigations, George Kinoti, who have brought criminal charges against dozens of civil servants and business people.

The US has in the past slapped travel bans on individuals implicated in graft.

Some of the high-profile individuals facing corruption allegations are the Deputy Chief Justice (DCJ) Philomena Mwilu, who is yet to take plea over charges of abuse of office and forgery related to loans from the fallen Imperial Bank until a constitutional reference she has made is determined.

Land scandal

Others are former National Land Commission chairman Muhammad Swazuri who has been arraigned over the Sh5 billion Ruaraka land scandal, Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong over accusations of defrauding the county government of Sh8 million as well as former Sports secretary Hassan Wario and his former Principal Secretary Richard Ekai.

The purge on corruption has also sent home former Youth Affairs Principal Secretary Lilian Mbogo-Omollo over accusations of involvement in alleged loss of loss of Sh468 million at National Youth Service.

Parastatal heads such as Ken Tarus of Kenya Power, Joe Sang (the Kenya Pipeline), Geoffrey Mwangi (NHIF), Newton Terer (National Cereals and Produce Board) have also been forced to either resign or step down over corruption allegations. “The US is Kenya’s strong partner in this fight, but every Kenyan now needs to reject corruption.”

Published on the Business Daily on March 26th 2019.