Kenya: the hunt for Kenya's stolen billions.

Author:Vesely, Milan
Position:Countryfile
 
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President Mwai Kibaki's relentless war on corruption has shifted gears and is now pursuing the billions of dollars siphoned out of the country during the tenure of the previous regime. Milan Vesely reports.

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President Mwai Kibaki's new administration is turning its attention to recovering the billions of dollars of public funds stolen during the previous regime. But finding it may be the easy part, recovering up to an estimated $4bn that was stolen and siphoned out of the country a far more difficult proposition.

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"Identifying the assets is just the first step," Ms Gladwell Otieno, executive director of the anti-graft group Transparency International said. "Getting the money back is a more questionable problem. The people who got the money out of Kenya obviously had enormous resources and it's not easy for a developing country to conduct these cases." Adding that the odds were stacked against the government recovering the full amount she stated "Kenyans are seeing what they have lost, the years of development that have been stolen from them."

A six months probe by the international Kroll investigation group has tracked much of the stolen money to accounts in big-name banks in London, Switzerland, Monaco and the Cayman Islands. Some of it was also used to buy shares in prominent London hotels, according to The Financial Times of London.

Believed to be embezzled by senior officials of the previous government, the money was obtained through scams and barely disguised embezzlement schemes. Many government officials allowed their associates to borrow money from Kenya's Central Bank, only to re-lend it back at much higher interest rates.

An investigation into the most infamous of the schemes, named the Goldenberg Inquiry after the front company that participated in a massive scam involving the supposed export of gold and diamonds, is now winding its lengthy way through a special court. Claiming to have exported hundreds of billions of shillings of gold and precious stones, the owners of the company received advanced payment of millions of dollars in hard currency from the Central Bank of Kenya, authority for the payout allegedly having come directly from State House.

With top intelligence officers cited at the inquiry, the court is having a hard time tracing the documentation authorising payout, most of the paperwork apparently destroyed prior to the election that brought Kanu's 24-year reign to an end.

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