Kenya's escalating white-collar crime situation is 'untenable'

As of October, 873 people in East Africa’s biggest economy were facing corruption charges in court, including five former ministers and two senators.

Kenya is facing an increased amount of white-collar crime, a situation that’s “untenable,” attorney-general Githu Muigai said.

“An unprecedented number of persons have been arraigned in court during the past year to answer charges of economic corruption,” Muigai said at an anti-corruption summit held on Tuesday at the presidency in the capital, Nairobi.

As of October, 873 people in East Africa’s biggest economy were facing corruption charges in court, including five former ministers, six principal secretaries, two senators, nine lawmakers, 16 senior county officials and 17 chief executive officers of state-owned companies, director of public prosecutions Keriako Tobiko said at the meeting.

One in five Kenyans are willing to pay cash to win business, according to an EY study on graft published in May. A quarter of Kenyan respondents in the survey said the government was unwilling to prosecute bribery and corruption, compared with 42% in South Africa. Kenya is among the world’s 30 most corrupt countries, according to Transparency International, a Berlin-based anti-graft body.

Senior government officials are colluding with private businesses to commit fraud, Muigai said.

In the most recent scandal, civil servants conspired with service providers to allegedly embezzle at least 1.8-billion shillings ($17.8-million) from the state-run National Youth Service, the head of Kenya’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, Halakhe Dida Waqo, said at the conference. An investigation is continuing and estimates of the amount stolen could rise further, he said. – Bloomberg

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