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Kenya's Central Bank Chief Charged with Corruption

The governor of Kenya's Central Bank has been charged with four counts of abuse of office for allegedly awarding lucrative contracts in violation of procurement procedures.

Andrew Mullei pleaded not guilty to the charges that were read out in an anti-corruption court Thursday.

A spokesman for the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, Nicholas Simani, describes to VOA the allegations against Mullei.

"He used his said office to improperly confer a benefit on Silla Mullei by appointing him as a consultant for the Central Bank without following the laid-down procedures," he said. "He used his office improperly to confer a benefit to a professor T. [Terry] Ryan by again appointing him as a consultant, and again, improper conferring a benefit to Mr. Melville Smith."

Silla Mullei is said to be Mullei's son. Mullei also allegedly hired Titus Mwirigi on contract without abiding to procurement procedures.

The Central Bank governor was released on a cash bond, with his trial scheduled for June.

The executive director of Transparency International - Kenya, Mwalimu Mati, tells VOA Mullei should step aside during the trial.

"Clearly, we have the governor of the Central Bank in charge of public finances, I think because he is being charged with abuse of office, the best thing would be for him to resign, or at the very least offer to step aside from running the bank pending the conclusion of this case against him," he said.

The allegations against the central bank governor are the latest in a series of corruption scandals facing the government of President Mwai Kibaki, who was elected at the end of 2002 on a strong anti-corruption platform. Mullei has been in office since 2003.

Three government ministers have resigned this year amid corruption allegations. The government is currently grappling with two major corruption scandals.

The "Goldenberg Affair" was a credit scheme set up by the previous government to purchase bogus exports of gold and diamonds, while the "Anglo Leasing" scandal involved the setting up of fictitious companies that were almost awarded lucrative contracts to supply security and defense services.

Several ministers in the current government are alleged to have been involved in the Anglo Leasing scandal.