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Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua fights to clear name over Sh7.6 million BAT bribe

By James Wanzala | December 20th 2015

NAIROBI: Narc Kenya leader and former justice minister Martha Karua Saturday denied claims in a UK newspaper that linked her to a bribery scandal involving the British American Tobacco (BAT).

Ms Karua described the claims that linked her to a go-between who received cash as malicious in communication through her official twitter handle and lawyer.

“I am not aware that any donation to my campaign was in pursuit of criminal intent. It is being handled; I will give my side of the story and take it from there.”

According to the British newspaper, BAT paid £50,000  (Sh7.6 million) in cash via a go-between in exchange of key confidential Kenyan Revenue Authority (KRA) documents outlining a £100million  (Sh15 billion) five-year contract for new technology designed to stamp out tobacco smuggling. However, the paper stated that it is not clear if Karua was aware of the circumstances in which the payment was made.

Communication from Karua’s lawyer Gitobu Imanyara to The Independent says the article was in bad light and malicious, and questioned why it chose to run the story while Karua and her legal team had indicated they were willing to answer to the allegations.

“You chose to run the story without the benefit of her answers in what she considers was a malicious move to besmirch her reputation and public record as an anti-corruption crusader,” Imanyara said, adding that Karua quit her position as justice minister on account of her disapproval of corruption.

The Independent reported that a meeting took place between the whistleblower, Paul Hopkins, who worked in Africa for BAT for 13 years, and the corporation’s senior regional officer which negotiated the deal with the go-between.

Meanwhile, on her social media pages, Karua called upon Kenyans to stop posting false information since her lawyers were handling the matter.

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In one of the tweets, she told those insulting her not to start celebrating early.
Martha Karua ‏@MarthaKarua: Do not celebrate my pain too early I shall be vindicated.

She tweeted again: It is difficult to engage anyone who failed to read the whole article and my response!

The name Martha Karua was among the top trending topics on Saturday on Twitter.

Karua becomes the latest Kenyan politician mentioned in BAT’s secret dealings. Earlier this month, CORD co-principal and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula was named as a beneficiary of the BAT bribes. Wetang’ula has since denied these allegations and threatened the British Broadcasting Corporation with legal action should it continue to air the particular episode of its current affairs programme, Panorama, that first broke the story.

Emails now shared by Mr Hopkins reveal BAT made dubious payments to  a former member of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO).  

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