NAIROBI – A Kenyan court charged on Monday five former senior officials with fraud and theft in the east African country’s biggest corruption scandal.
President Mwai Kibaki’s government has been under pressure from Kenyans and Western donors to punish those behind the Go
ldenberg scam, when vast sums were siphoned from state coffers via export subsidies for fake mineral exports in the 1990s.
“You are charged with stealing from the central bank, the sum of 5.8 billion Kenyan shillings ($80.11 million), property of the government of Kenya,” Aggrey Muchelule, Nairobi’s chief magistrate, told the five.
Former spy chief James Kanyotu, former central bank governor Eric Kotut, his ex-deputy Eliphaz Riungu, former treasury permanent secretary Wilfred Koinange and former Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) managing director Elijah arap Bii pleaded not guilty.
The five held their posts under former President Daniel arap Moi. KCB was a state bank then.
All except Kanyotu were also charged with abuse of office and breaching public trust.
Businessman Kamlesh Pattni, accused of masterminding the scam, was not charged alongside the five because he had obtained a court order blocking proceedings against him on grounds that an inquiry into the affair was unconstitutional.
Three Kenyan ministers have resigned this year over accusations of involvement in Goldenberg and the more recent Anglo Leasing scam. The latter involved fake tenders for at least $200 million to a fictitious firm for forgery-proof passports, a naval ship and forensic laboratories.
Muchelule said the Goldenberg theft case would be heard on May 24 and the abuse of office charges on June 7.–Reuter