Kenya makes first conviction in Anglo Leasing graft scam
A Kenyan court found a former senior government official guilty of abuse of office and fined him 3 million shillings on Wednesday, the first conviction related to the multi-million dollar Anglo Leasing corruption scandal.
The scandal, which started before the 2002 election of President Mwai Kibaki, involved state contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars being awarded to non-existent firms.
Kibaki came to power on a platform to stamp out endemic corruption but not one government minister has been convicted of graft since he took office, and financial malfeasance remains a serious drag on east Africa's biggest economy.
Issuing Wednesday's verdict, Judge Lucy Nyambura ordered former home affairs permanent secretary Sylvestor Mwaliko to either pay the fine or face three years of imprisonment.
The Anglo Leasing scandal involved government funds being paid to shadowy foreign companies for services ranging from forgery-proof passports to naval ships and forensic laboratories - which never materialised.
"The prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubts that the accused signed the documents of the contract for the tender of new generation passports awarded to Anglo Leasing without the knowledge of the immigration department or verifying the status of the company before agreeing to enter into any contract," Nyambura said in her ruling.
Mwaliko's lawyer was not immediately available for comment.
Many Kenyans feel Mwaliko was not a major architect of the scandal and that those responsible continue to enjoy immunity from a political elite that protects its own interests.