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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Is the Anglo-Leasing Scam Dead and Buried?

‘The scale of the public outrage that has been created is so great I don’t think it will die,’ John Githongo – December 2006, referring to the Anglo-Leasing Scam

President Mwai Kibaki, currently campaigning for a second five-year term, won an election five years ago by a landslide on the basis of an anti-corruption ticket. He made the bold move of appointing the country’s head of Transparency International as his anti-corruption tsar and included him as part of the Government. His name – John Githongo.


A journalist by profession, John Githongo was first introduced to anti-corruption work by his father who was one of the founders of the Kenyan chapter of Transparency International.

But in his high-prestige post in the new Kibaki government Githongo junior committed the ultimate sin: he was just too good at his job. He uncovered a $200 million scam that ultimately led to the heart of government itself.


It began when John Githongo received information that prompted him to investigate a contract with a company called Anglo Leasing and Finance to provide the Immigration Department with a new tamper-proof passport system. A commitment fee had been paid but no work appeared to have been done. Furthermore, no one who should have known seemed to know exactly what Anglo Leasing was.


He investigated further and, almost miraculously, the money paid out to Anglo Leasing started coming back. Not just a trickle either – it poured. Obese cheques – one for 4.7 million dollars – arrived at the Kenya Central Bank.


‘I have to admit, I got carried away. I thought: wow... here is somebody returning all this cash and not suing us. If someone is forced to pay back half a billion shillings on a contract, they have to be out of pocket in a big way and should go to court. Now this is the real business... this is the real fight against corruption... this is half a billion which can now perhaps be spent on something more worthwhile. Recovery of money on this scale had never happened before.’


But, he recalls with a wry smile, ‘my colleagues did not share my enthusiasm. No celebratory atmosphere developed. No champagne bottles were popped. There was something odd...’

Senior officials told him to back off now. The Anglo Leasing sandal was not a scandal, he was told, as the money had been repaid.


But he did not follow their advice. He carried on and found that there were other Anglo Leasing type companies and contracts for various projects – a forensic laboratory for the police, ships for the navy, a telecommunications system.


The pressure on him to ‘take a back seat’ from the investigation became more intense.

He was determined to find out who was behind this massive network of scams so that they could be prosecuted. A combination of naivety and optimism kept him going, says Githongo. ‘I had no idea my inquiries would reach so high.’


Githongo kept his boss, the President, informed at each stage of his investigation. Finally, though, his position became impossible. He received warnings from friends. People in high office wanted him dead. He escaped to Britain in early 2005 and has been here since. But he has not kept quiet.


In January 2006 he issued a damning dossier which implicated and named four high-ranking Kenyan government officials in corruption on a massive scale: David Mwiraria, finance minister; Kiraitu Murungi, energy minister; Vice-President Moody Awori; and Chris Murungaru, former national security minister. The main purpose of the corruption, the dossier alleged, was to raise party funds with which to fight elections by siphoning off government money into non-existent companies.


Since the report was published three of the ministers concerned were fired from the cabinet and Kibaki’s fragile Rainbow Coalition has collapsed. Two of the fired ministers have since been re-appointed but interestingly there have been no high-level prosecutions to date and the accused ministers continue to deny wrong-doing.


John Githongo thinks there are some people in government who still support him and his anti-corruption drive but they are ‘not a critical mass’. As he says: ‘The fact that I am here [in Britain] speaks volumes.’


The Government has made other attempts to put the lid on the scandal. The lead investigator in the Anglo Leasing Affair has been fired. Meanwhile Justice Aaron Ringera, head of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, has been accused by Githongo and others of ‘shielding the culprits’ until after the 2008 general election.


Thousands of demonstrators have been taking to the streets of Nairobi to protest against the Government’s corruption and Ringera’s complicity.‘The scale of the public outrage that has been created is so great I don’t think it will die,’ Githongo comments. ‘If the Government thought this was going to go away it got it wrong. The press is really at the forefront of public accountability in Kenya these days. There have been some setbacks, like the government raid on The Standard [a Nairobi daily] in 2006. But the press came together and has remained steadfast on this issue of anti-corruption. It’s a very positive development – one of the key institutions in the structure of our democracy.’

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Most Kenyans have little or no education at all and care less about Anglo Leasing. Stop any 10 guys in any part of the country and I'm sure only 3 will tell you that Anglo Leasing was a corruption scandal. Press them further and only one will have a clue of what the scandal was about. Kibaki Admin (Karua) has successfully convinced most Kenyans that Githongo was a British spy and a Mzungu bootlicker. Why not seek asylum in Japan, Egypt, TZ or Sweden? They argue. Let's not forget Brito Mzungu is the most hated national in Kenya. That's why even the likes of Koigi avoided that cold country like plague when in exile. I doubt anyone would hurt Githongo if he was to return back home today since to the govt he's less dangerous than Raila. Days of assasinations and detentions are history. Githongo could easily have been a hero if he had opted to stay in Kenya and who knows, maybe a future president? Running away to Britain with tail between his legs did not endear him to Kenyans. If Brito can freeze a terror suspect assets within seconds, why do they take ages even to act on African loot stashed in London? Do they care who invest in their country and where the money comes from? How did the likes of Moi and Kotut acquire so much assets there without the knowledge of the world famous Scotland Yard? Mmmmm I smell something fishy here... Be advised accordingly...AMK

Anonymous said...

Phil a lot of stuff like this is circulated on email today when you decided to do your posts on Anglo. What a coincident.

Ministry of Finance, Kimunya's Girlfriend And Where All The Corrupt Deals
Are Authorized
Take a quiet moment to really think about it and you will quickly realize
that the ministry of finance is perhaps the most corrupt ministry as this is
where millions of shillings is released for payment in dubious deals hatched
by all other ministries and government departments.

It is also common knowledge that if the treasury 'smells a rat' in some
financial dealings other ministries have got involved in, it has the
authority to refuse to release the money until the matter is investigated
and found to be above board. This has hardly ever happened.

It is due to this fact that finance ministers have always found themselves
on the receiving end when scandals in government are unearthed just like the
multi billion shilling Anglo Leasing saga that is still haunting the Kibaki
administration to this day. The same is true with the Goldenberg scandal
before it.

When the Narc government assumed power at the end of 2002, it was widely
believed that looting of the treasury would be a thing of the past
especially when one Daudi Mwiraria was appointed finance minister.

All was well at the treasury at the start when Mwiraria, a known workaholic
went about cleaning the mess left behind by the Kanu regime which had, as
expected, looted the treasury prior to being voted out in those elections.

It was common for the diminutive Makerere university alumni to work well
into the night and in some occasions leaving the treasury at about midnight
as he 'burned the midnight oil' in his bid to put back the country's
finances in order.

What many did not know is the fact that as he was doing this, he also
discovered that there was a way for making lots of money in a scheme hatched
by Kanu and unknown to Kenyans.

The rest is history as millions and even billions of shillings was paid out
to non existent companies in the Anglo Leasing scam that will probably cost
Kibaki his re-election later this year.

When Mwiraria left the treasury at the height of the scandal, many thought
that the new minister, one Amos Kimunya would turn around the ministry and
give it a good name.

It has now emerged that Kimunya is worse than Mwiraria as he has brought in
the ugly head of tribalism and nepotism to the treasury and has more often
than not failed to successfully defend the fight against graft that the
government claims to be waging war against.

Kimunya's shortcomings are published in the Kenya gazette number CIX-No 12
of February 9, 2007,notice number 952 where one Agnes Wanjiru has been
appointed as director of Central Bank of Kenya. Who is Agnes Wanjiru?

Wanjiru is basically unknown in financial circles and according to an
alternative press publication notorious for being used by politicians to
settle scores against each other, Wanjiru is said to be a lover and golfing
partner to the minister who is facing so much opposition at home that he may
not make it back to parliament.

Two days ago, the minister was heckled and booed in his constituency when he
tried to muscle the selection process of members of the Narc election
committee with others getting so enraged that they climbed the table on
which the minister was conducting the meeting from.

It is now rapidly becoming apparent that probably the only way to
successfully tackle high-level corruption is by having someone like Ndingi
Mwana'a' Nzeki appointed finance minister or better still, the incorruptible
John Githongo.

Mkenya

Anonymous said...

Kumekucha,

Please have mercy on us!

JEFF

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