Officials in Tanzania prosecuting a Sh600 million bribery scandal relating to a government bond have now turned to the country’s Justice minister for help to get Kenyan authorities to extradite two of its citizens they believe will help solve the case.
They are looking for Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) chairman John Ngumi, who was in charge of the CFC Stanbic Bank’s East Africa investment arm, and Mr Bashir Awale, who served as Stanbic Tanzania CEO when the bond was floated in 2012.
The Tanzanian bond was handled by Stanbic Tanzania which was fined in 2015 for its role in the scandal.
Mr Awale is accused of using the money as an inducement to have state officials favour the two banks when Tanzania floated the international bond.
Tanzania’s Attorney-General Adelardus Kilangi, whose office was reportedly co-ordinating the extradition requests, referred all questions on the matter to the Justice minister, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi.
He said only the minister would be issuing progress on the extradition requests as it involved two friendly nations.
“I wouldn’t be in a position to say right now what has not happened or happened as I am barely two months in office,” the AG said. “I prefer that our minister be the spokesperson on matters such as this touching on two countries.”
Dr Kilangi was appointed in February to replace Justice George Masaju, who is now a judge of the High Court.
The Prevention and Combatting of Corruption Bureau director-general Valentino Mlowola on April 12 said the extradition process of the two Kenyans wanted over the case was now being handled from the AG’s office.
“It is the AG’s office that should be in a position to say how far the extradition process has gone. I am not authorised to speak about the matter,” Mr Mlowola said in a telephone interview. Mr Awale was Stanbic Tanzania chief for seven years and was fired on August 19, 2013 for failing to co-operate with investigators. The bank later announced that he had left voluntarily. The fact that he sat in the strategy team of the opposition presidential candidate Edward Lowassa did not help matters for him. He was deported for allegedly being in the country illegally soon after the 2015 General Election, which Mr Lowassa lost to CCM’s John Magufuli.
Exactly a year ago, Kenya’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) said it was helping investigators from Tanzania under the Mutual Legal Agreement to have the two Kenyans produced in Tanzania.
“We have received the MLA and are working closely with the State Law Office in line with the request. A team of investigators from Tanzania and Kenya has been put in place to implement the request,” EACC CEO Halakhe Waqo said at the time. However, Tanzania feels that Kenya is not keen on fulfilling its obligation. A source in the office of the director of prosecution close to the case told The Citizen — a publication of the Nation Media Group in Tanzania — that investigators have been so far unsuccessful in seeking the extradition of the Kenyans.
According to the source, who requested anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media over the matter, requests to extradite Mr Awale back to the country have not been honoured.
“Investigators attempts to summon for questioning other senior officials in Kenya over the Stanbic scandal have also not been successful,” said the source. He said some of those wanted were apparently enjoying high level political patronage.
The case first came to light after Standard Bank PLC pleaded guilty in a London court in 2015 to charges brought against it by the Serious Fraud Office, which accused its Tanzanian executives of failing to stop a $6 million bribery scandal.
According to UK court papers, the $6 million bribe was paid to a company known as Enterprise Growth Market Advisors (EGMA) as an agent for Stanbic Tanzania to win the $600 million government loan deal on behalf of the bank’s UK-based main unit, Standard Chartered Bank.
These arrangements were allegedly made by Mr Awale and Ms Shose Sinare, then the unit’s head of corporate and investment banking.
On April 13, Ms Sinare and Mr Sioi Solomon, a former senior official of the bank, protested in court over delay in prosecuting the case against them.
Appearing before the Kisutu Resident Magistrate Huruma Shaidi, they accused the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) of taking unnecessarily long to complete investigations.
The two alongside former Tanzania Revenue Authority Director-General Harry Kitilya were charged on April 1, 2016 with several charges relating to the bribe linked to the bond.
The three were charged with seven counts, among them money laundering, forgery, abuse of office, corruption, obtaining advantage and transfer of proceeds. They have been in remand since then.
Appearing before the court for mention on Thursday, Sioi and Sinare asked the magistrate to intervene on the incessant claim by the prosecution that investigations were incomplete.
“We are nearing the third year in custody yet the case is yet to start with the same old song that investigations are incomplete. I am praying that the court intervenes,” said Mr Sioi.
Yesterday, Mr Ngumi did not respond to our enquiries on the matter while we could not reach Mr Awale. But last year, Mr Ngumi told the Sunday Nation he was not aware he was being sought in connection with the case.