Kenyan Minister faces arrest over graft

January 3, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 3 – Attorney General Amos Wako has directed the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) to arrest and prosecute Cabinet Minister Henry Kosgey with corruption related charges.

An official at the KACC told Capital News that Mr Kosgey will now face eight counts of abuse of office relating to exemptions given for the importation of over-age motor vehicles.

"We have received the file from the Attorney General and our officers are already looking for the Minister," the source who didn\’t want to be named said.

The officer confirmed that the KACC received files it had sent to the AG seeking consent to prosecute the Industrialisation Minister for allowing the importation of cars that exceed the recommended eight-year period.

Last month, KACC Director Patrick Lumumba revealed that he was seeking consent to prosecute a Cabinet Minister but at the time declined to reveal his identity.

If charged in court, Mr Kosgey will have to be suspended from office pending the determination of his case as outlined in the Anti Corruption and Economic Crimes Act.

Mr Kosgey is also among six individuals named by ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo as bearing the greatest responsibility for the 2008 post-election violence that left more than 1,500 Kenyans dead and more than 650,000 others displaced.

Mr Kosgey was on November 3 questioned by officers of the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission for three hours, but refuted claims that he violated any rules.

He said he had been summoned to verify importation document relating to 67 vehicles which had been intercepted by the anti-graft body.

At the time, told journalists he only went there to verify the list of cars under question and not his possible wrongdoing.  "I don\’t think they have a problem with that but that\’s something you need to ask them… I cannot answer for KACC, I can only answer what I came to do and that is to verify the list."

Sources said he was required to explain why a waiver was given for more than 100 vehicles to be imported into Kenya, when the year of manufacture was beyond the set limit.

Kenya has banned the importation of motor vehicles manufactured eight or more years before the date of importation.

The Standards Act however allows the Industrialisation Minister to allow vehicles older that are over eight years old to be brought into the country on the advice of the board of the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS).

This is the provision that allows Kenyans working abroad to import vehicles they were using.

The Kenya Revenue Authority ordered the vehicles in question detained because of documentation queries.

It suspected that importers were taking advantage of loopholes in the law, such as those permitting returning Kenyans to come home with their cars.

The Minister was taken to task in Parliament a day before he was grilled by KACC to explain how 196 individuals brought in motor vehicles that exceed the requirements, and the identity of the importers.

MPs wondered why a huge number of cars were allowed in within a short period, arguing that there was indication corruption may have led to the unusual waiver.

Parliament has directed the minister to furnish the House with a comprehensive answer on the importation of the vehicles whose date of manufacture is against requirements of the Standards Act.

The Industrialisation Minister had tabled a list of the vehicles that had been allowed to be imported by Kenyans returning from work abroad, but MPs queried the list saying that some information had been excluded.

The matter became controversial after Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni tabled a letter signed by the Kenya Bureau of Standards showing that 454 vehicles had been exempted in the last six months.

Mr Kioni said 85 of the applicants\’ passport numbers were missing while 125 had not indicated when they left Kenya.  Another 137 had not indicated their date of return.

MPs rejected the list and accused the Mr Kosgey of abusing the powers of his office by allowing vehicles contrary to the Act.


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