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Kenya Tries to Locate Money Stolen by Former Government - 2003-12-17


The Kenyan government is trying to track down at least $1 billion that have been allegedly taken out of the country and invested overseas by officials of the former government.

Kenya's assistant minister of justice, Robinson Githae, says the government has hired an international financial consultancy, Kroll Incorporated, and other experts to find the money. He says paper trails are leading investigators from tax havens back to Africa.

"Some money has been stashed away in Switzerland, in Cayman Islands and Monaco," he said. "But now intelligence reports say that there have been massive attempts to transfer that money to some African countries."

Mr. Githae was referring to African countries that have not signed the U.N. International Convention against Corruption, which Kenya signed earlier this month.

Those countries include Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Botswana.

Mr. Githae says the amount of money invested overseas by officials of the former government led by Daniel arap Moi could add up to between one and $4 billion.

Much of the missing cash is linked to an export company called Goldenberg International, which is currently the subject of a massive government investigation. Early results show Goldenberg allegedly falsified invoices from fictitious sales of gold and diamonds from the company.

Goldenberg allegedly took those invoices to the country's central bank and, under a government program to encourage exports, received payments for the fictitious sales. The little gold and diamonds that were actually exported were smuggled in from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Some other allegations of corruption include false payments on Kenya's foreign debt and kickbacks to government officials from construction and other procurement contracts.

The deputy director of Transparency International-Kenya, Mwalimu Mati, hails the government's efforts to find the money.

"A billion dollars is a third of our budget at the time," he said. "Properly invested, it would have paid for 10 years of free primary education. It has caused immense damage."

Mr. Mati says he is optimistic that most of the stolen money will be found and returned to Kenya.

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