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Team to review UK request on Okemo, Gichuru extradition

BUSINESS
By | Jun 11th 2011 | 4 min read
By | June 11th 2011
BUSINESS

By Steve Mkawale

A high level team has been formed by the Government to look into voluminous documents received from a Jersey court, UK, on the possible extradition of Nambale MP Chris Okemo and businessman Samuel Gichuru over Sh900 million scam.

Chief Public Prosecutor Keriako Tobiko Friday confirmed he has constituted a team of State Counsel to go through the documents Attorney General Amos Wako received from Jersey on the warrants of arrest against the two.

"I have already formed a team to process the documents as quickly as possible," said Tobiko, on the telephone when reached for comments.

We also learnt last night that the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission had seconded two detectives to work with the team throughout the weekend.

In a statement to The Standard On Saturday newsroom, Wako when they appeared before the Parliamentary Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee (COIC), together with Keriako Tobiko nominated for DPP.

With proceedings relayed live on TV to millions of Kenyans, the three were asked to declare their true worth in terms of liquid cash, investments, and expected income.

In the precedent-setting move, the trio was also asked to publicly announce their Personal Identification Numbers, three names, places and dates of birth, their daytime telephone numbers (both landlines and mobile phone), and email addresses.

Mars Group chief executive officer Mwalimu Mati now says that this week marked the operationalisation of the Public Officer Ethics Act 2003. The Act requires Government officers to declare their wealth.

New impetus

"The new Constitution, at Chapter Six, has given the Act new impetus. We have people aspiring for public offices being required to declare their wealth publicly," said Mati.

Having survived the blunt scrutiny by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Mutunga was the first to face the 27-member committee where he declared his wealth. The hitherto Ford Foundation representative for Eastern Africa region, said he expects $380,000 (roughly Sh33.3 million) as future benefits (pension and investments) before taxation.

Mutunga said the source of his income was Ford Foundation and his law firm, which collectively earned him a gross income of Sh17,945,540.

And between January and May, the CJ nominee earned a net salary of $44,373 (Sh3.9 million) from Ford Foundation, and gross income of Sh2.3 million from his law firm.

Apartment in Nairobi

Mutunga also revealed that he owns a share of an apartment in Nairobi’s Westlands; valued at Sh20 million, land in Kitui worth about Sh2 million, and savings of $40,000 (Sh3.5 million).

His potential deputy, Baraza revealed she has Sh34 million in real estate investments, two cars; a Mercedes Benz worth Sh2 million, and another car valued at Sh500,000. The Deputy CJ nominee also holds shares worth Sh200,000, and cash Sh2.4 million, from sale of some of her property.

Tobiko, who was grilled by the panel twice, said his net worth stands at Sh80 million.

Despite the enactment of the Public Officer Ethics Act in 2003, Government workers have continually overlooked its provisions of declaring their wealth publicly each year.

The Justice and Constitutional Affairs ministry, which handles the issue, has often expressed frustration at the widespread disregard for the law, with Permanent Secretary Amina Mohammed calling for amendment of the law for more punitive measures to contraveners.

Transparency International, Kenya deputy executive director Teresa Omondi hailed the move as bold, but recommended that Kenyans authenticate the accuracy of the figures and the nominees made to account for it.

Genuinely bought

"Saying ‘I’m worth this and that’ is commendable. But we should take the next step which is more important … if it (wealth) is genuinely brought out, then we need to interrogate and see how they acquired the same," said Omondi.

In 2004, State employees successfully fought of attempts to make the wealth declarations public citing "security reasons".

But Mati now argues the move by the three nominees this week has proved that public declarations were not harmful.

"This is the law that Kenyans had envisioned. But what we got was a situation where Members of Parliament declared their wealth to Parliamentary Select Committee; teachers to TSC, civil servants to PSC, and the commissions locked the forms up," decried Mati.

National Taxpayers Associaton national co-ordinator Davis Adieno termed the ‘live’ declarations a tremendous boost to accountability and transparency.

"We will be able to track their wealth even five years from today, and know whether it’s clean," said Adieno.

However, he decried the fact that the Act is not followed, saying it would be hard to ascertain their wealth as they leave office.

"We need to tighten the Act and make sure after a certain duration, they declare their wealth again," he stated.

Mati called for future presidents, their deputies, and Cabinet secretaries to undergo a similar vetting.

Public officers

"The US President has to file annual returns stating his or her assets and liabilities. Barack Obama has always done that. Other world leaders also do the same, as this is a means of keeping them honest," said Mati.

Adieno said public officers might be left with the single option of stashing their ill-gotten wealth abroad. He noted that the same has been made impossible by the recent indictment of former Kenya Power and Lighting Company managing director Samuel Gichuru and former Nambale MP Chris Okemo in Jersey, UK, over money laundering.

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