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Prominent Kenyans Banned From Entering US


The United States has banned a former aide to Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and three prominent Kenyan businessmen from entering the United States under U.S. anti-corruption legislation.

Former presidential aide Alfred Getonga, who had been dismissed three months earlier, and tycoons Jimmy Wanjigi, Deepak Kamani and Anura Perera have been denied visas to enter the United States because of their alleged links to the so-called "Anglo Leasing" deal, which may have cost the Kenyan economy more than $200 million.

A public relations counselor with the U.S. embassy in Kenya's capital Nairobi, Bob Kerr, tells VOA that Presidential Proclamation 7750 recognizes that corruption has a negative influence on public institutions and U.S. dealings with countries overseas.

"We believe in honest business transactions and honest government to the extent that [if] people come forward to receive visas to go to the United States, especially if it is in situations where they are able to fund their travel because of illicit gains, we feel that that is a practice worthy of discouraging," said Kerr.

The United States imposed the ban on visas for the four earlier this month in accordance with the legislation, which cancels or denies visas to anyone engaging in, associated with, or benefiting from, corruption.

The Anglo Leasing affair involved the government awarding lucrative contracts to fictitious companies to print high-tech passports and build police forensic laboratories.

Through investigations, all four were accused of being involved in the scheme to one degree or other.

Getonga was dismissed as President Kibaki's aide in February after the government's Public Accounts Committee named him of having links to the Anglo Leasing deal.

The four were unavailable for comment. Media reports indicate they deny wrongdoing.

The executive director of Transparency International - Kenya, Mwalimu Mati, tells VOA the visa ban sends out a strong message to those involved with corruption in Kenya.

"The world is becoming a smaller place for people who have problems related to corruption," said Mati. "One of the things that we have been calling for is for international cooperation, so to that extent I think it is a laudable move. These kind of measures do make it easier for countries to deal with grand corruption by making it have personal consequences for individuals who are involved in it."

Many Kenyans are angry with the government, which was elected at the end of 2002 on a strong anti-corruption platform.

Last year, Britain and the United States denied former transport minister Chris Murungaru visas to their countries also for being linked to the Anglo Leasing scandal.

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