, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 19 – Former presidential candidate Martha Karua has denied claims that she was bribed by British American Tobacco (BAT) to block a rival firm from a multi-million pound contract.
According to the UK’s Independent newspaper, BAT paid £50,000 (Sh7.6 million) to Karua – a former Justice Minister – to prevent a rival company supplying Kenya with technology to combat cigarette smuggling.
Karua insists that the report is false and vowed to deal with the media company.
The report states that in return for the money, paid in cash via a middle man, BAT obtained key confidential Kenyan Revenue Authority (KRA) documents outlining the £100 million (Sh15.2 billion) five-year contract for new technology designed to stamp out tobacco smuggling.
They then had the contract deliberately delayed while they secretly lobbied to get their own system chosen.
The bribery expose was first published by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), through its investigation programme Panorama, accusing BAT of bribing senior politicians and top civil servants in East Africa.
The payments were revealed when a whistle-blower shared hundreds of secret documents.
According to documents with the BBC, BAT lobbyist Julie Adelle-Owino requested the purchase of a business class plane ticket to London for Kenya’s former Minister for Trade, Moses Wetangula in July 2012.
The email says Wetangula “would be hosted at Globe House” – BAT’s London headquarters.
While in London, Wetangula said he and several members of the Kenyan delegation stayed at the Holiday Inn Regent Park Hotel.
Wetangula, who is now the Senate Minority Leader, has denied allegations that he was bribed by BAT, terming the claims as ‘nauseating, unfortunate, scandalous, malicious and slanderous to the extreme’.
Wetangula insists that he has never received any kind of bribe and said the report was malicious.