Gideon "I will not pay my bills because I am Gideon Moi" Moi.
Most Kenyans still underestimate the considerable pressure President Moi was under in his last months in office. Apart from some of his supporters urging him to hang on to power the president had to think very carefully about a viable exit strategy. Moi had become an extremely wealthy man in his 24 years at the helm of the country. Now he had to quickly secure his ill gotten wealth as he prepared to leave office.
The Kroll report details a fascinating trip that took place towards the end of former president Moi's last term as president where he visited several banks in Luxembourg with his most favoured son, Gideon, in an unmarked ordinary car and without any security or escort. Only one State house aide (who was chief of protocol at the time) accompanied them. And even he was left in waiting rooms as father and son had meetings with their bankers behind closed doors. It was clear that the purpose of this trip was to introduce the younger Moi to his bankers.
It is believed that during this trip administration of the vast Moi fortunes was transferred to Gideon. Investigators are still trying to prove that the monies were transferred around the world in a further effort to make it as difficult as possible for it to be traced back to the Mois.
But former president Moi’s efforts to secure his ill-gotten billions did not end there, they continued in earnest even after he had left office.
It seems that sometimes in November 2003 there was a meeting at the ex-president’s Kabarak home which was attended by his sons Philip and Gideon, as well as long serving aide Joshua Kulei. Also in attendance was trusted family lawyer, Dr Kiplagat. The main agenda of the meeting was to explore how best to protect the vast family wealth, both locally and broad from any possible political interference.
By this time some of Moi’s worst fears had already unfolded and there were already threats to have the former president write a statement to assist in corruption investigations which was very strongly resisted by MPs from Rift Valley. One of the individuals who very surprisingly strongly defended the former president and urged his colleagues to leave him alone was one Raila Amollo Odinga.
To many political observers this was puzzling but there is a very simple explanation. In his long years in politics Moi had learnt that a politician’s most valuable asset is calling in favours and Mi had accumulated plenty in his 24 years as president. Earlier in this book I have written in great detail about the bloody failed coup of 1982. One of the prominent people arrested was Raila Odinga and there was plenty of evidence to link him to the coup. Being so deeply involved in a coup is a capital offense which has no other punishment other than death by hanging. The late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga appealed to Moi and Moi spared Raila’s life. And so as other coup plotters like Pancreas Ochuka headed straight to the gallows, Raila cooled off his heels in detention once again. Sparing Raila’s life was a huge favour and evidence suggests that Moi called in this favour at his hour of need hence Raila’s unexpected reaction as a section of parliament closed in on the retired President.
Still, the meeting in Kabarak in November 2003 was not without plenty of drama. The family lawyer started off by advising the Moi's to keep as much of their wealth and assets as they possibly could overseas. The lawyer pointed out that legally no court order or ruling had been issued declaring the Moi wealth as having been acquired through corrupt or illegal means, which would be required by the government in order to freeze assets and bank accounts abroad. The Mois were also advised to use trusts that were experienced in hiding controversial assets on behalf of high profile clients.
But during that meeting, it emerged that Joshua Kulei's own estimates of the amount he held in trust for the Moi family and which he was now required to surrender and estimates of the same by Moi's sons did not tally. The tension got so high that death threats are believed to have been issued against Kulei.
Matters got worse at a meeting later held at Philip's house to try and resolve the misunderstanding over the issue and Kulei made the unfortunate decision to go outside the Moi family to seek for help. It is highly likely that this is the move that caused details of the meeting to leak to those who were not involved. Kulei consulted Mr Tum of the Kenya Seed Company to talk to the former president on his behalf. He told Tum that the crux of the problem was that the president's sons had failed to make any distinction between his (Kulei's) private wealth and that which he held for the former president in trust.
Now it is unlikely that such a matter will ever end up in court, but even if it was, it is clear that Kulei who was a poverty stricken prisons warder by the time he was appointed to handle the Moi wealth did not have any personal wealth of his own apart from what he was looking after on behalf of his benefactor. Any monies he would have earned for himself during that time would have either involved the use of the same funds he was supposed to look after or at least by virtue of his position. This means that the Moi's sons had a point and all the money belonged to the Moi's since he was paid to do the job. But Kulei obviously saw things differently. The man’s background is of great help in trying to understand his thinking in such a clear-cut matter.
Read the second and final part of this saga
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