UK court orders seizure of 'Chickengate' firm's assets, to pay Sh357m fine

Jailed directors of the British company also hit with punitive fines.

Saturday January 9 2016

An Interim Independent Electoral Commission’s official loads ballot boxes and other voting materials onto a vehicle at Tac Centre in Eldoret East Constituency on August 3, 2010. FILE PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA

An Interim Independent Electoral Commission’s official loads ballot boxes and other voting materials onto a vehicle at Tac Centre in Eldoret East Constituency on August 3, 2010. FILE PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Smith & Ouzman, the London-based security printer convicted of bribing Kenyan election and examination officials, was on Friday fined £2.2 million (Sh357 million) as authorities move in to attach its assets.

London's Southwark Crown Court made the order on Friday in proceedings to seize the company’s assets that are now seen as proceeds of crime.

The penalty includes a fine of £1.3 million as well as £881,158 to satisfy a confiscation order applied for by the Serious Fraud Office and £25,000 in costs.

"Corruption of foreign officials is damaging to the country in which the corruption occurs, is damaging to the reputation of UK business and of course in the market in which a business operates. It is anti-competitive,” the London court said.

Jailed directors of the British company were also hit with punitive fines.

A confiscation order of £18,693 was imposed on Nicholas Smith, payable within eight weeks. He was also ordered to pay costs of £75,000 within nine months.

Christopher Smith was ordered to pay £4,500 in confiscation within seven days and costs of £75,000 within three months.

SEVEN TIMES MORE

The total fines payable is more than seven times the £349,057.39 bribes codenamed "chicken" which were paid to top officials at the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) and the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec).

Top on the list of those who received bribes from S&O include Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Issack Hassan, sacked Energy Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir (former commissioner at Interim Independent Electoral Commission(IIEC) and former Knec boss Paul Wasanga, according to court filings.

Judge Daniel Pearce-Higgins, in February 2015, sentenced S&O executives Nicholas Smith to three years in jail while his father, 72-year-old Christopher Smith was handed a suspended jail term of 18 months and 250 hours of community service.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko have little to show in terms of pursuing Kenyan suspects named in the bribery scandal.

EACC is still asking for more time to carry out investigations, yet London authorities have already jailed the Smith & Ouzman (S&O) executives who gave out the hefty bribes and has now attached the printer's assets.

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