CCK says its hands clean in Kencell deal

December 31, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 31 – The Communications Commission of Kenya has defended itself over accusations that its officials received bribes from France telecommunications giant Alcatel-Lucent for the award of the country\’s second mobile phone licence to Kencell 10 years ago, and the purchase of telecommunications equipment.

Director General Charles Njoroge told Capital newsbeat on phone that the commission used laid-down regulations in the issuance of the license.

"The documents are there and the processes are documented and if anyone would want to see how it was done there is evidence," said Mr Njoroge.

The telecommunications giant is reported to have admitted in an American court that it paid bribes amounting to Sh1.5 billion to Kenyan officials in the deals.

"They are mentioning CCK but the truth of the matter is that we do not deal with equipment.  We deal with licenses," said the Director General.

After CCK awarded the second GSM licence, several companies bid to provide infrastructure and services to Kencell Communications. It is alleged that Alcatel-Lucent made improper payments to the intermediary in the approximate amount of Sh1.5 billion to win the tender.

According to court documents this frame supply agreement valued at Sh6.7 billion included construction of a switching centre, an operations and maintenance centre and base stations for the mobile network.

"When it comes with supplying equipment it is individual companies and so whatever they decide to do whether it is open tendering or not, is their business," said Mr Njoroge.

Kencell was co-owned by French Telecom Vivendi and Kenyan company Sameer.  It was later sold out to Zain Africa.

Alcatel-Lucent was charged by US prosecutors in a Federal Court in Florida with violating the internal controls and records provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices the company admitted it made at least Sh3.7 billion in profits as a result of its bribery.

Following the suit it is reported that Alcatel has reached a Sh10.6 billion settlement with the American Department of Justice.

US prosecutors said on Tuesday three Alcatel-Lucent subsidiaries, which provide telecommunications equipment and services, bribed foreign officials to win business in Costa Rica, Honduras, Malaysia and Taiwan.

In a statement on the issue, Alcatel admitted to using third-party agents and consultants to facilitate its business dealings.

"Even in this country by then you know the kind of regime we used to have and we cannot make any apologies on that regime," said Mr Njoroge.


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