5 Kenyans linked to global drugs trade

November 22, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 22 – United States Ambassador Michael Ranneberger has said his government is conducting investigation into an international drug trafficking ring, in which five prominent Kenyans are implicated.

Mr Ranneberger maintains the US government has credible information against the five, who were slapped with a travel ban to America last week.

"As I indicated, narcotics trafficking to Kenya is a growing problem, but the five people that I mentioned are not the only people who are involved… those are the people we have detailed information (on) and we have also shared the information with the government," he said.

Last week, Mr Ranneberger said they had credible evidence against the five, who included four senior government officials and a prominent businessman, but declined to disclose their identities.

He added that the US government remained determined and would continue to intensify the war against drug trafficking in Kenya. He pointed out that the illicit drug trade had become a common practice among high ranking officials.

He said the coastal city of Mombasa was a haven for drug use and trafficking, and argued that if politicians and other leaders failed to battle it, the trend would become irreversible.

He said: "It is a problem that really affects the fabric of the society and of course it’s related to impunity.  When people launder funds; when people use container terminals to bring in goods, when people pay officials off… drug trafficking, corruption and the culture of impunity are all the same really."

He spoke at the offices of the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission on Monday morning, when he presented additional information on the closed Charterhouse Bank to the KACC.

The diplomat said his government supported the continued closure of the bank.

The ambassador walked into Integrity Centre with a white folder marked Charterhouse Bank Ltd, which he presented to Mr Lumumba after 30-minutes of consultations.

KACC Director PLO Lumumba said that the commission would assess the dossier presented by the envoy in the ongoing probe.

He also urged Kenyans to step up and assist in the war against corruption and avoid victimising whistleblowers.

"In the fight against corruption every time is the right time, so this is the right time… it is a matter that is alive and well," said the anti-graft czar.

The KACC has always maintained that the bank should remain shut until all investigations are completed.

Charterhouse Bank was closed in June 2006 after audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers investigated it and found massive breaches of the Banking Act and prudential regulations that could point to possible money laundering and tax evasion.

The Parliamentary team on Finance which is probing the closure, has called for its reopening to allow customers access their funds.



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