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Thursday, November 15, 2007

What is Anglo Leasing?

Kiraitu Murungi is one of the closest allies of Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki. He has been accused of attempted cover-up in the Anglo Leasing Scandal, which he has earlier claimed that it was a "scandal that never was".

On February 8, 2006, the BBC World Service aired a conversation between Murungi and former Governance and Ethics Permanent Secretary John Githongo where he appears to be coercing Githongo to drop his investigations on the Anglo Leasing Scandal. He had promised that Anura Pereira would forgive a debt of KSh. 30 million owed by Githongo's father.

Murungi initially maintained that he would not resign his cabinet post despite the allegations of corruption. He claimed that he was innocent and that Githongo's reports are mere propaganda. On the recording, he has commented: "I have listened to the alleged tape recorded evidence. It is truncated, inaudible, insufficient and inadmissible to form any credible proof of the allegations being orchestrated by Mr Githongo". On 13 February 2006, however, President Mwai Kibaki announced that Murungi had resigned to allow full investigation into the allegations. On 14 February 2006, a day after his resignation, Murungi has claimed that he played no role at all to cover-up the Anglo Leasing Scandal. He has blamed his woes on the politics of National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) and the media. However, it later emerged that President Mwai Kibaki had asked him to resign from the Government.

On 15 November 2006 Kibaki reinstated him as Energy minister.

Recently, Dr. Murungaru has been embroiled in a conflict with the British Government following cancellation of his Visa to enter the United Kingdom, due to allegations of corruption in the Anglo-Leasing scandal. He has taken the British Government to court challenging the cancellation of his Visa. He has hired prominent Kenyan lawyer Paul Muite and a group of British lawyers, Mr Rabinder Singh, a Queen's Counsel of Matrix Chambers, London, Mr Richard Stein, a senior partner in Leigh, Day and Company and Ms Tessa Hetherington, a junior counsel of Matrix to represent him.

On 23 November 2005, President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya dissolved his cabinet following a humiliating defeat on a referendum on the proposed constitution of Kenya. The president and his key allies including Dr. Murungaru were campaigning for a Yes vote on the constitution, and they lost forcing the president to reconstitute his cabinet. Many Kenyans speculated that Dr. Murungaru may not be re-appointed back to the cabinet owing to his tainted image. He is viewed by many as corrupt and arrogant, and many people have cited this could be a contributing factors to the Government's loss in the referendum.

On 22 January 2006, John Githongo named Murungaru as one of three top politicians (with Kiraitu Murungi, former justice minister and present energy minister; and finance minister David Mwiraria) as being involved in scams worth $600M. On Wednesday, 1 February 2006, Finance Minister David Mwiraria announced that he was stepping down as a minister and a member of cabinet to pave way for investigation. The news were received with joy by many Kenyans, though some saw him as a scapegoat who has been sacrificed to protect a president whose support has been waning. Meanwhile, Dr. Murungaru has remained unrepentant, claiming he has done nothing wrong.

On 16 January 2006 President Kibaki allowed anti-corruption chief Aaron Ringera to request Murungaru to declare and account for his wealth. Murungaru has since moved to court to prevent the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission from investigating, saying fulfilling the commission's request would amount to self-incrimination.

Vice President Moody Awori announced on 2 February 2006 that he was not going to step down from his post despite being adversely mentioned in the Anglo Leasing Scandal. He has insisted that he is innocent, and that nothing short of due process will make him resign his post. He has criticized by many people for defending those involved in the scandal before Parliament.

On February 17, 2006, the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACA) arraigned Dr. Murungaru in a Nairobi court charging him without failing to declare and account for his wealth. The Commission believes that Dr. Murungaru has become too rich too quickly and has been investigating the source of his wealth, especially in relation to the Anglo Leasing Scandal. He denied refusing to declare his wealth, and was released on a bond of KSh. 200,000. On December 1st 2006, the Kenyan High Court determined that KACA's notice to Murungaru was not carried out according the laid down law that subsequently led to the High Court quashing KACA's case against Murungaru. The court did not however stop KACA from investigating Murungaru or anyone else for corruption but insisted that any orders issued by the Commission be done so in a legal manner. Coincidentally, the civil society in Kenya under the banner of Name and Shame Corruption Network (NASCON) held a demonstration in the streets of Nairobi to push for the resignation of more senior people in President Mwai Kibaki's administration. Key among them is civil service boss Francis Muthaura and Vice President Moody Awori.

David Mwiraria: Following revelations that he had been involved in the Anglo Leasing Scandal, he decided to resign his post on 1 February 2006. He has maintained that he is innocent and claims that he is stepping down to pave way for investigations. Despite there being no investigation report clearing Mwiraria, President Mwai Kibaki appointed him Minister for Environment on July 24, 2007.

Mwiraria features prominently in audio recordings released on the internet in 2006 by John Githongo, exiled former Permanent Secretary in the Kenya Government, which indicate Mwiraria was trying to stop Githongo's inquiries into the theft of over 777 million US Dollars in a series of 18 security related contracts, colloquially called Anglo Leasing.

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