Goldenberg scandal: The lesson Kenya never learnt


KENYA: The push by businessman Kamlesh Pattni to terminate cases related to the Goldenberg scandal suffered a setback last week after the Court of Appeal allowed a case filed by a Nairobi-based NGO against the closure orders to proceed.

A lot has happened since the fraudulent scheme came to the fore a decade ago. Several people mentioned as co-conspirators have since passed on, while a number of others have mellowed under the weight of accusations of either abetting or aiding the process that led to the fraud.

New frauds and excessive cases of corruption have been exposed all too frequently.

East African Standard captured the extent to which the scam had permeated the Kenyan society in a story titled; Big names who got Goldenberg money, in which it reported that a commission set up to inquire about the issue had been furnished with names of prominent personalities who received money.

“They include politicians, civil servants and industrialists. Documents tabled at the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Goldenberg Affair showed that former State House Comptroller Abraham Kiptanui and industrialist Chris Kirubi were among those who were paid through the Goldenberg account. Kirubi was paid Sh5 million, while Kiptanui got Sh3 million,” reported the paper.

The country and its politicians should have learnt some lessons from Goldenberg, but greed has kept creeping back. As a result, Kenya has witnessed a number of other scandals, including Anglo-Leasing, fertiliser and maize scandals. The maize and education scandals came to light in January 2009.

In February the same year, former President Mwai Kibaki suspended key officials in the Agriculture and Education ministries, a day before CORD leader Raila Odinga announced he was sending the then Agriculture Minister William Ruto and his Education counterpart Sam Ongeri home.

Influential individuals

According to the story, other prominent personalities named included former Assistant Minister and Kisauni MP Said Hemed Said, lawyer and politician Moses Wetangula, former Nairobi Provincial Police boss GKK Kinoti and veteran politician Philip Ochieng’.

“The money was allegedly channelled to these and other influential individuals through accounts held by companies associated with Goldenberg International Ltd or the company itself through Exchange Bank. Individuals, government corporations, NGOs, and even religious and other charitable organisations also received money,” read the paper.

Pattni also kept records of all those who benefitted from his generosity, the dates in which the money was paid out, beneficiary account numbers, amount and banks where the money was paid.