The Kenyan justice system has been shamed twice in one week, as British courts have convicted people whose fraudulent dealings were connected to Kenya.
The two verdicts came as the Kenyan authorities were either not making any headway or were doing nothing at all on the cases.
On Tuesday, Moi-era looter and pseudo-businessman Ketan Somaia was fined an equivalent of Sh5.6 billion by a UK court or will be jailed for 16 more years.
Somaia, who is already serving an eight-year sentence at the Belmarsh Prison for fraud, was given six months to repay the money after being found guilty of defrauding businessmen Murli Mirchandani and Dilip Shah of billions of shillings.
SMITH AND OUZMAN LTD FINED
This followed another verdict on Friday, in which a British printing company convicted of bribing Kenya officials to win ballot and examination printing contracts was ordered to pay a £2.2 million (Sh330 million) fine.
Smith and Ouzman Ltd was found guilty of bribing officials in Kenya and Mauritania with Sh59.3 million (£395,074) to earn printing contracts. It was an additional fine that followed the jailing of the company’s former directors in February last year, on being found to have had a hand in the bribe scandal.
The ruthless manner in which British investigators handled Kenya-related corruption cases has put to shame Kenyan authorities, who have in the past promised to deal firmly, only to allow the matter to degenerate into buck-passing.
PASSING THE BUCK
On Wednesday, the police absolved themselves from blame, saying that they had never investigated the cases that were tried in the UK.
Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinett told the Nation that the cases were handled by other institutions and not the police.
“You can get the information from the EACC that investigated the cases in question,” he said.
EACC Chief Executive Halakhe Waqo could not immediately be reached for comment, but he has in the past said his office is in contact with British Serious Fraud Office in investigating local suspects.
Given the convictions in the UK, one would expect that the same evidence would be useful to prosecute Kenyan suspects since British courts had already established that money had been given out as a bribe.
“When there is a foreign judgment, there is a procedure of obtaining such evidence to be used locally,” Law Society of Kenya CEO Apollo Mboya said, blaming the delays on the Attorney-General Githu Muigai.
On Wednesday, the AG’s office said it had been facilitating mutual legal assistance between EACC and the UK authorities, but that the duty of investigating the matter was the graft body’s.
Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko, too, refused to take blame for delayed prosecution, arguing that his office does not investigate criminal incidents.
“The Director of Public Prosecution’s decision on whether or not to institute criminal proceedings is based on evidence submitted by the Inspector-General of Police or any other legally mandated investigating agency,” Mr Tobiko said in a statement posted online last evening.
“The Director of Public Prosecution can, therefore, not institute criminal proceedings in the absence of evidence on the same,” he said.
Mr Somaia had initially defrauded the Kenya Government of Sh112 million after promising to import 500 ‘London-look’ black taxi cabs, but only delivering 200 second hand vehicles.
He was convicted and jailed at Kamiti Maximum Prison, although he was at Kenyatta National Hospital most of the time. A court quashed his imprisonment in 2005.