UK recovers Sh577 million stolen from Kenyan taxpayers

Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko (right) with EACC chief executive officer Halakhe Waqo when they presented their supplementary budget proposals before the National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee yesterday. [PHOTO: BONIFACE OKENDO/Standard]

The United Kingdom is planning to return a whopping Sh577 million seized after investigations into two corruption scandals in Kenya.

In compliance with the UK policy, the money will however not be channelled to the exchequer but will be committed to social development projects, according to Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) Chief Executive Officer Halakhe Waqo.

The amount includes Sh525 million in an account in Jersey Island belonging to Windward Trading Ltd after the company pleaded guilty to four counts of money laundering before the Royal Court of Jersey. The matter is linked to former Kenya Power boss Samuel Gichuru and former Nambale MP Chris Okemo, who are fighting extradition.

"The international probe has been fruitful. We are to identify projects to be funded by the Sh525 million recovered as per the UK policy. The money will not be sent to the exchequer. The UK government identified the project, which we protested and later agreed after deliberations," Okemo said.

The same applies to the "Chickengate" scandal involving Kenyan electoral officials and British company Smith and Ouzman in the procurement of electoral material. EACC told MPs that it had recovered Sh52 million in connection with the scandal.

"The Sh52 million recovered has already been committed to the Ministry of Health to purchase ambulances that will be launched by the President soon," said the CEO.

According to the Waqo and Director Public Prosecutions (DPP) Keriako Tobiko, local and international investigations into the loss of public funds have been fruitful.

The two found themselves on the receiving end when the National Assembly's Justice and Legal Affairs Committee took them to task over corruption in the country and the rationale of their seeking additional funding through  supplementary budget.

EACC is seeking Sh164 million to outsource legal services in the next three months, while DPP wants Sh41 million for the same.

"We want institutions to stick to their core mandate. What is the justification to have institutions with its staff mainly lawyers outsource legal services," asked committee vice chairperson Priscilla Nyokabi (Nyeri County MP).

Waqo and Tobiko are scheduled to give Parliament a status report on the progress of investigations into 175 suspects in the "list of shame" made public by President Uhuru Kenyatta last year.

The MPs sought to know if the agencies chiefs were overwhelmed and unable to do their work.

Waqo complained that despite EACC recommending prosecution of eight governors mentioned in the list, none has been prosecuted.