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Kenyan Report Alleges Official Corruption

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, left, and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta applaud signing of a Standard Gauge Railway agreement at the State House in Nairobi, May 11, 2014. Fraud has been alleged in a railway deal.

Kenya's anti-graft watchdog published a report detailing corruption allegations against 175 government officials on Tuesday, with some cases involving multibillion-dollar, Chinese-backed infrastructure projects.

Five ministers already have left their positions temporarily, after President Uhuru Kenyatta made a speech last Thursday in which he directed any public official cited in the report to step aside pending investigation, regardless of rank.

The report was not made public until Tuesday, although some parts had been leaked to the media.

Anti-corruption called a priority

Kenyatta made the fight against graft a priority on taking office in 2013, but critics say he has been ineffective. Corruption is considered a major obstacle to business and national security in Kenya.

The report by Kenya's Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission outlines allegations against members of parliament, senators and governors in what local media has dubbed the List of Shame.

Presented to parliament for debate on Tuesday, the report cites cases ranging from bribery to abuse of office to interference with contracts for government projects.

"In recent years, corruption and unethical behavior ... has gained root in Kenya," the report said. "This state of affairs has led to despair among the public, negative effect on the economy, skewed service delivery and eventually posed challenges to the ... governance of the country."

For instance, the report mentioned an irregularly awarded contract to construct a Standard Gauge Railway project for 320 billion shillings ($3.5 billion). It also alleged that officials tried to influence the award of a $500 million pipeline contract to Chinese company Sinopec Corp.

The Sinopec deal was "meant to corruptly yield $15 million" to be shared between Energy Minister Davis Chirchir and Nairobi Senator Mike Mbuvi Sonko, according to the report.

Ministers temporarily stepped down

A spokesman from the Chinese embassy in Nairobi had no immediate comment. Neither Chirchir nor Sonko, nor a Sinopec representative, could be reached for comment.

Chirchir, as well as the ministers for labor, land, transportation and agriculture, have stepped down temporarily.

Agriculture minister Felix Koskei is accused of renting government land "under unclear circumstances" and plowing 100 acres to plant potatoes. Koskei also could not be reached for comment.

The National Audit Office is accused of defrauding the World Bank out of hundreds of millions of shillings by doubling the cost of an unspecified project. The World Bank had no immediate comment. The audit office could not be reached for comment.

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