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Kenya graft czar speaks on maize saga

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 29 – The Kenya Anti Corruption Commission has said that the multi-million shilling maize scandal could be more extensive than currently appears.

KACC Director General Aaron Ringera on Thursday said that the Commission had extended its investigations back to October 2007, when the scandal is believed to have initially started.

“From our preliminary investigations, it appears that the problem could have started a year earlier than we had thought,” Justice Ringera said referring to initial inquiries that had centered on the release of 700,000 bags of maize from the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) to millers between October and December last year.

“Although we had finished (the initial probe), fresh allegations were made and we embarked on investigating them.”

The NCPB has been in the headlines in the recent past over alleged corruption in the purchase of the already scarce maize and allocation to millers.

The anti-graft body is investigating claims that 100,000 bags disappeared from the strategic grain reserves manned by the NCPB. Reports indicate that the country could have lost close to a billion shillings through corruption deals in the corporation.

Agriculture Minister William Ruto on Monday dissolved the entire of NCPB board and sacked 12 top managers, as he sought to instill efficiency at the company.

Justice Ringera in the meantime said investigations into the Sh7.9 billion oil scandal involving Triton Petroleum Company and the Kenya Pipeline Company were at an advanced stage.

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“We have been conducting the investigations for the last three weeks. Several people at Kenya Pipeline and oil marketing companies have been questioned,” he said, adding that the KACC report would be forwarded to the Attorney General for action as soon as possible.

The police have already sought the assistance of Interpol to help capture Triton proprietor Yagnesh Devani who has since left Kenya.

Justice Ringera spoke after launching a report on the processes and systems of the National Registration Bureau which has identified deep-rooted corrupt practices in the issuance of national documents.

The audit revealed that brokers had invaded the process soliciting bribes from innocent members of the public. It also established there was financial mismanagement, poor procurement procedures and human resource management and delayed issuance of documents.

“The team found some officers of the bureau in possession of blank documents such as affidavits bearing stamps of legal practitioners and blank baptismal cards from various churches. This is an indication that these officers illegally issue such document s to applicants,” Justice Ringera said.

The KACC has recommended that the whole process be computerised and more checks be instituted regularly. The commission also wants the independence of the internal audit assured.


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