Croatia Sentences Ex-PM For Corruption

Croatia’s former prime minister Ivo Sanader attends a hearing during his trial in Zagreb, Croatia.  STR / AFP

 

A Croatian court on Monday sentenced former prime minister Ivo Sanader to six years in jail and the boss of Hungary’s MOL energy group to two years for bribery.

Sanader — already serving time for a separate graft conviction — and MOL’s Zsolt Hernadi were convicted for “receiving and giving a bribe” concerning a 2009 deal after the Hungarian firm purchased shares in local oil and gas group INA, the judge said.

Judge Maja Stampar Stipic said the deal allowed then-PM Sanader to pocket 10 million euros ($11 million) in exchange for granting the Hungarian firm control over INA.

MOL, whose main shareholder is the Budapest government, has a 49 percent INA stake, while Zagreb holds a 44 percent stake.

“As the top state official, Sanader … jeopardised Croatia’s vital economic interests,” prosecutor Tonci Petkovic said in his final statement.

Defence attorneys for CEO Hernadi, who was tried in absentia, argued that the prosecutors did not prove an “incriminating tie” between the two defendants.

Both men pleaded not guilty and can appeal the verdict.

The former premier was already found guilty of the charge in 2012, but the country’s top court overturned his eight-and-a-half-year jail sentence and called for a re-trial.

Croatia has sought Hernadi’s arrest for years, but Hungary has refused to extradite him.

Sanader, conservative prime minister from 2003 to 2009, has faced several other graft cases in which he is suspected of embezzling millions of euros.

In April he was jailed to serve a six-year sentence in another corruption case.

In 2018 he was also sentenced to two and half years for war profiteering, but acquitted of abuse of power charges in another trial.

Sanader is the highest official to be charged with corruption in Croatia since independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

Tackling corruption was key for the country’s successful bid to join the European Union in 2013.

AFP

Vietnam Ex-Minister Gets Life Sentence In Bribery Case

Vietnam Flag

 

A court in Vietnam sentenced a former communications minister to life in prison Saturday for receiving millions of dollars in bribes, as the hardline administration presses its anti-graft drive against once-powerful figures in the communist state.

Nguyen Bac Son was charged alongside his then-deputy Truong Minh Tuan with receiving $3.2 million in bribes to approve the 2015 purchase of a TV firm that would have lost state-run telecommunications firm Mobifone $300 million.

The two-week trial in Hanoi for the men — once members of the powerful communist party central committee — ended Saturday, according to state-run media Tuoi Tre.

Son, a minister from 2011-2016, was sentenced to life in prison while Tuan — who took over as minister until he was fired in July last year — got 14 years in prison.

“The defendants’ behaviour caused bad opinions in society, resulting in especially huge losses for the state,” state media quoted the verdict as saying.

It also “caused $300 million in losses to state coffers,” the verdict said, though the transaction was never fully completed.

Son reportedly admitted wrongdoing before the court and asked for leniency, while Tuan said he was “shameful for his mistakes”, said Tuoi Tre.

Prosecutors had initially proposed the death penalty for Son, but he was spared after he returned the money on Friday before the verdict’s announcement.

Both men had received the money from Pham Nhat Vu, director of the loss-making TV company Audio Visual Global, who was also sentenced to three years in prison Saturday, while 11 other officials involved received jail terms between two and 23 years.

Vu’s brother is Vietnam’s richest man Pham Nhat Vuong, with assets totalling billions of dollars thanks to a cradle-to-grave empire that includes housing, holiday resorts, farms, schools, shopping malls and cars.

The case has captivated a public unused to seeing powerful figures publicly toppled.

Since Vietnam’s transition to a hardline ultra-conservative administration in 2016, the government has ramped up an anti-corruption campaign which has jailed dozens of senior officials, bankers and businessmen.

Some observers believe the drive to be politically motivated.

Vietnam, one of Asia’s fastest growing economies, has long been plagued by endemic corruption, with Transparency International ranking it 117 out of 180 countries on its corruption index.

AFP

Lawmaker Arrested In Japan Over Alleged Bribes

A file photo taken on Dec. 9, 2019 shows Japan Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Tsukasa Akimoto attending the Lower House plenary session in Tokyo. AFP

 

A Japanese lawmaker was arrested on suspicion of accepting bribes worth tens of thousands of dollars from a company that wanted to build a casino, Tokyo prosecutors said Wednesday.

Tsukasa Akimoto, a former member of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling party, received three million yen in cash in 2017 ($27,400 at the current rate), prosecutors said in a statement without identifying the company.

The arrest could put pressure on the Abe administration, which legalised casinos in 2018 despite bitter opposition.

Akimoto, who denied the allegations in a tweet, was the senior vice minister in charge of overseeing the government’s casino policy.

Prosecutors alleged he received the money “knowing the company provided it for the purpose of asking for favourable arrangements” for casino projects.

Prosecutors also arrested three employees of Chinese betting company 500.com, which allegedly bribed Akimoto, according to public broadcaster NHK.

Akimoto resigned from Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party after his arrest.

Prosecutors also alleged he was “invited on a trip to Hokkaido… and received the financial benefits worth around 700,000 yen including airfare and accommodation”.

Japan’s government has long pushed for the construction of mega-resorts that integrate casinos, entertainment venues, restaurants, hotels and conference facilities, similar to Las Vegas.

The policy’s supporters argue that casinos will boost the stagnant economy by bringing in tourists and business, similar to regional gambling hubs like Macau.

Japan is often viewed as the holy grail of gambling in Asia because of its wealthy population, proximity to the huge Chinese market, and an appetite for other forms of legal gambling such as horse racing and pachinko, a slot machine-style game.

But many activists are concerned about Japan’s well-documented gambling addiction issues.

AFP

Wherever There Is Disorder, You Cannot Kill Corruption – Ashimolowo

 

President of Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC) Global, Matthew Ashimolowo has said that corruption can only be reduced to its barest minimum if there are order and a system that kills the act.

Speaking on Channels Television’s Newsnight programme, Mr Ashimolowo stated that President Muhammadu Buhari has good intentions, but needs subordinates that can pilot the affairs.

“The President has good intentions, a good passion but in my own opinion, he is just like every good leader should be; must have a helicopter view of what he wants. But the microcosms should be dealt with by the subordinates under him.

“If the president says he wants a government that kills corruption, then the people around him should now come up with the systems that make corruption difficult.

“We need those who will take the vision of the president and turn it to systems so that even if you wanted to do it, you were not allowed.”

 

READ ALSO: Makinde Signs N213.78bn 2020 Budget

He added that despite the fact that corruption cannot be killed, it can be reduced through a system that is captured at the lower level.

“Wherever there is disorder, you cannot kill corruption, for you to kill corruption, you must create order and people who like corruption, hate your order.

“Corruption can be stopped, maybe not 100 percent.

“When we talk about corruption, the passion of the president is so right that there is a need for a system that makes the helicopter view of the president captured at the microcosm level.”

Corruption: 22 Ex-Governors Facing Probe, Trial – Malami

The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, addressing reporters in Abuja on December 19, 2019.

 

 

At least 22 former governors are either being investigated by the Federal Government or already standing trial in various courts.

The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, announced this on Thursday at a press conference in Abuja.

“We have three former governors convicted and serving various jail terms for corruption-related crimes while in office. Equally, 22 ex-governors are either under probe or trial,” he said.

READ ALSO: EFCC Detains Adoke Over Malabu Oil Scandal

Malami stressed that the government was more than resolved to nip corruption in the bud and return all of Nigeria’s commonwealth.

According to him, the Federal Government has won no fewer than 1,636 cases through the agencies championing its anti-corruption drive in the last four years.

The Minister affirmed that the government was committed to seeing the cases of corruption to a logical conclusion.

He stated, “Our fight against corruption is total, comprehensive and dispassionate, devoid of any political or any sentiment or inclination.

“One of the multiple institutions involved in the fight against corruption, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was able to from 2015 to September 2019 convict 1,636 persons involved in corruption-related offences.”

“It might interest you to note that former state governors and even serving senators are not spared.

“Currently, high-profile personalities including judicial officers and former governors indicated for corruption have been prosecuted and sentenced to jail,” Malami added.

Alleged Corruption: ICPC Arraigns Ex-Court Registrar, Wife Over Litigant’s N80m

 

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has arraigned a former staff of the Judiciary, Mr Joseph Udoh, and his wife over allegations of money laundering.

Udoh, a former registrar with the Kaduna Division of the Federal High Court and his wife, Mrs Grace, were arraigned before Justice Mallong Hoommuck on 12 counts.

In a statement on Sunday, ICPC spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa, said Udoh was alleged to have misappropriated an amount exceeding N80 million from the money that had been deposited in the court by a litigant.

He reportedly issued cheques in the name of his wife who was also a staff of the court but in Abuja, and used the money to acquire properties in some major cities across the country.

READ ALSO: I Am Alive And Bubbling – IBB

The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them.

Their counsel, S. M. Essienakak, informed the court that they had served the prosecution with a bail application and prayed the court to grant his clients bail on non-stringent conditions.

Essienakak gave assurance that the couple would not evade bail.

But counsel to ICPC, Shehu Yahaya, strongly opposed to the bail application on the grounds that the attitude of the defendants suggested that if they were granted bail, they might interfere with the processes.

He informed the court that four of the witnesses to be called by the prosecution were members of staff of the Kaduna Division of the court, where one of the defendants had served as a registrar.

After listening to arguments of counsel on both sides Justice Hoommuck granted the defendants bail in the sum of N10 million.

He also asked them to provide two sureties in like sum who must be members of the legal profession and must own properties in a Government Reserved Area (GRA) in Kaduna.

The judge, thereafter, adjourned the matter until January 28, 29, and 30, 2020, for the continuation of hearing.

Sudan’s Al-Bashir Sentenced To Two Years House Arrest For Corruption

FILES) In this file photo taken on August 31, 2019, Sudan’s ex-president Omar al-Bashir appears in court in the capital Khartoum to face charges of illegal acquisition and use of foreign funds.  AFP

 

A Sudanese court convicted deposed president Omar al-Bashir of graft on Saturday and sentenced him to two years’ house arrest in a social care facility. 

The charges stemmed from millions of dollars received by the toppled strongman from Saudi Arabia.

Bashir, who was deposed by the army in April after months of mass protests against his three-decade rule, appeared in court in a metal cage wearing a traditional white jalabiya and turban for the verdict.

He was convicted of “corruption” and “possession of foreign currency”, judge Al Sadiq Abdelrahman said, charges which can carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Instead the court, taking into account his age, ordered the 75-year-old to serve two years in a correctional centre for the elderly.

“Under the law, those who reached the age of 70 shall not serve jail terms,” the judge said.

Bashir will serve his sentence after the verdict has been reached in another case in which he is accused of ordering the killing of demonstrators during the protests that led to his ouster, the judge said.

The court also ordered the confiscation of 6.9 million euros, $351,770 and 5.7 million Sudanese pounds ($128,000) found at Bashir’s home.

The ex-president will appeal the verdict, said one of his lawyers, Ahmed Ibrahim.

Outside the court, several dozen Bashir supporters gathered chanting: “There is no god but God.”

Hundreds more holding banners reading “Down, down the government” marched in central Khartoum where there was a heavy security presence.

Sudan is now ruled by a joint civilian and military sovereign council, which is tasked with overseeing a transition to civilian rule.

The authorities announced Saturday the dissolution of professional organisations put in place under Bashir — one of the demands of the protest movement that unseated him.

Saudi ‘donations’ 

Bashir admitted to having received a total of $90 million from Saudi leaders and the trial centred on the $25 million received from Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Bashir said the money seized from his home came out of the $25 million.

The funds, he said, formed part of Sudan’s strategic relations with Saudi Arabia and were “not used for private interests but as donations”.

Bashir’s lawyer Mohamed al-Hassan had said before the verdict that the ex-president’s defence did not see the trial as a legal case, but as a “political” one.

The trial does not relate to charges Bashir faces at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Bashir has been wanted by the ICC for years for his role in the Darfur war that broke out in 2003, when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against his Arab-dominated government which they accused of marginalising the region.

Human rights groups say Khartoum targeted suspected pro-rebel ethnic groups with a scorched earth policy, raping, killing, looting and burning villages.

The Darfur conflict left around 300,000 people dead and 2.5 million displaced, according to the United Nations.

After Bashir was toppled, ICC prosecutors requested he stand trial for the killings in Darfur.

Army generals who initially seized power after the president’s fall refused to hand him over.

But Sudan’s umbrella protest movement, which now has significant representation on a sovereign council that in August became the country’s highest executive authority — recently said it has no objection to his extradition.

Separately, on November 12, Sudanese authorities filed charges against Bashir and some of his aides for “plotting” the 1989 coup that brought him to power.

In May, Sudan’s attorney general said Bashir had been charged with the deaths of those killed during the anti-regime demonstrations that led to his ouster, without specifying when he would face trial.

AFP

 

Corruption Remains A Serious Problem In Nigeria, Reveals SERAP Survey

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees

 

 

A new public survey released today by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) shows that corruption remains a serious problem in Nigeria, and affecting the majority of Nigerians, despite Nigerian authorities’ oft-repeated commitment to address the problem.

According to the survey, “96.2% of the respondents believed corruption remains a serious problem in Nigeria today. There was no significant difference in opinion on this issue across the different geo-political zones surveyed. However, only 5% of the respondents from the North-West viewed corruption as a problem in Nigerian society.”

In addition to the acknowledgment that corruption is a major problem in Nigeria, the survey further established that “84.5% of Nigerians believed corruption affects them.”

The latest report by SERAP entitled Nigeria: Anti-corruption Social Norms Survey was launched today at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos. The survey is published as part of the organisation’s implementation of the Anti-Corruption in Nigeria (ACORN) project funded with UK aid from the British people.

READ ALSO: Resolution Of Conflict Key To Development In Africa – Buhari

The survey shows that social media and the internet are the most common sources of information on corruption, according to 38% and 33% respectively, of the respondents surveyed. The survey further shows that to successfully reach the majority of Nigerians and influence behavior change; these are the most dependable channels.

In contrast, only 9.8% and 1.6% mentioned religious institutions and traditional rulers respectively, as influential to influence behavior change.

According to the survey, “Traditional leaders have lost their place in guiding the society on morals and ethics. Another noteworthy observation made on the diminishing role of the traditional leaders was recorded as follows: Some of the traditional rulers are key political players. They influenced elections for politicians who in turn grant them favors. Paying traditional rulers using public money managed by politicians also dilutes their power to stand against corrupt leaders.”

The report read in part: “Almost half of the respondents (43.5%) surveyed do not believe that corruption can be successfully fought in Nigeria. The result paints a citizenry that has resigned to the high levels of corruption. This response should be juxtaposed with 96% of the respondents who viewed corruption as a major problem in Nigeria and 86% who believed it affects them.”

“Notably, majority (23.8%) of the respondents’ perception is that this is a loss to the Nigerian people. However, a significant 18.8% view theft of public money as a loss to the government. This should be a cause for alarm as it would be hard to mobilize citizens against corruption until the point where Nigerians view it as an economic crime against the people.”

“Of greater concern is that a combined 18% seem to tacitly approve or at least admire the acts of corruption and illicit wealth acquisition. About 12% view the loss of public money as a source of wealth while 5% would even wish to get an opportunity to perpetuate such a vice.”

“The implication is that while the social norms, values, and experiences point to corruption as a negative vice, the citizenry have little faith in the efforts aimed at tackling it. Further inquisition on the negative perception of anti-corruption efforts pointed to the need for a mindset change. Some of the adverse attitudes identified were influenced by a perceived lack of punishment of corrupt persons.”

“This further entrenches the corrupt tendencies. Additionally, poverty among citizens was seen to compromise the expected citizen pressure against corruption. Some respondents mentioned the ease with which political players bribe their way to positions and once in office perpetuate corruption. The societal values that do not find voter bribery as repugnant therefore cultivates weak and corrupt leadership.”

“On the issue of personal responsibility against corruption, about 57% of the respondents believed they have a role in supporting anti-corruption efforts. It should be a matter of concern that more than 40% do not think there is anything they can do on this front.”

“Majority of the respondents who did not see their role in reducing or eliminating corruption (52%), were in a sense of helplessness as they either believed there is nothing an ordinary person could do to fight corruption or had negative experiences that nothing changes even when citizens make effort.”

“Perhaps the most adverse observation in this context was that 15% of the respondents believed it is the government’s role to fight corruption. This finding resonates with an almost equal proportion of the respondents who viewed the loss of large amounts of money through corruption as a loss to the government, and not the public.”

“It is imperative that Nigerians acknowledge corruption as thievery of their own money to cultivate a sense of personal responsibility against the vice.”

“The Federal Government should respect the rule of law and obey all court orders to improve the integrity and independence of the judiciary.”

“The Federal Government should ensure effective and full enforcement of the Freedom of Information Act to encourage citizens’ access to credible information about the frequency of corruption among public officials and in ministries, departments and agencies. This would help to gauge and change descriptive norms about corruption in Nigeria and subsequent behavior.”

“The National Assembly should show leadership in the fight against corruption by publishing its spending and members’ salaries and allowances as well as bring the salaries and allowances within the requirements of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) including on members’ constitutional oaths of office.

“The National Assembly should collaborate with traditional and religious and citizens’ and community institutions to promote transparency and accountability in the public and private sectors.”

“The National Assembly should drop the Social Media Bill and Hate Speech Bill, and be more proactive in the fight against corruption including bypassing the Proceeds of Crime Bill, the Whistle-blowers Bill, and the Witness Protection Bill among others.”

“The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should hold regular public hearings into allegations of corruption in ministries, departments and agencies and encourage citizens’ participation in the fight against corruption.”

“The ICPC and EFCC should collaborate with religious institutions, traditional institutions and other critical members of the civil society and community-based institutions to develop strategies on how to relieve and shift some of the social pressures that sustain corruption.”

“State Governments should domesticate the Freedom of Information Act within their states if they have not already done so, and encourage Nigerians to blow the whistle and report on petty and grand corruption including on social media. They should end the harassment and intimidation of journalists and citizens who report on allegations of corruption including on social media within their states.”

“The National Human Rights Commission should establish a special task force in collaboration with traditional and religious leaders and citizens’ and community-based movements and members of the civil society to promote awareness among Nigerians about the negative effects of corruption on access to public goods and services and the society in general as well as why it is in everyone’s interest to resist all forms of corruption.”

“The Minister of Information and Culture should drop the push to regulate the Social Media and encourage diversity of access to information including on allegations of corruption involving high-ranking government officials; as well as collaborate with religious institutions, traditional institutions and other critical members of the civil society and community-based institutions to develop strategies on how to relieve and shift some of the social pressures that sustain corruption.”

“Religious Institutions should proactively address issues of corruption in the society among their members and encourage them to participate in the fight against corruption in the country, and collaborate with civil society and community-based organizations to explore ways of working together in public spheres to address public issues including corruption for the betterment of Nigeria.”

“Traditional Institutions should proactively address issues of corruption in the society among people within their areas of authority and encourage them to participate in the fight against corruption in the country, and collaborate with civil society and community-based organizations to explore ways of working together in public spheres to address public issues including corruption for the betterment of Nigeria.”

“The survey was conducted using two data collection approaches. First, face to face interviews were conducted targeting 2,549 respondents across all the geo-political zones of Nigeria and covering the eight states of Ondo, Enugu, Rivers, Lagos, Adamawa, Kano, Kaduna, and Kwara. Abuja was also included as an additional sampling area due to its capital city status.”

“The face to face interviews were conducted by trained field enumerators using semi-structured questionnaires embedded on a mobile telephone application. The data was then relayed to a central data center for analysis. Across the geo-political zones, the largest sample was picked from the North West (25.9%) followed by South West at 21.2%.”

“South East and North Central contributed the least proportions at 13% and 9.4% respectively. Out of the 8 states and Abuja, the Rivers and Kano states contributed the bulk of the sample at a combined total of 33% (17% and 16.3% respectively).”

“The survey also conducted key in-depth interviews among government ministries and other institutions including the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, the Economics Crime and Financial Crimes Commission among others. The in-depth interviews were also conducted among academia, the bar association, civil society organizations, traditional rulers and religious organizations.”

Two Algeria Ex-PMs Get Heavy Jail Terms In Graft Trial

 

An Algerian court sentenced two former prime ministers to long jail terms Tuesday in the first of a string of high-profile corruption trials launched after longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned in the face of mass protests in April.

Ahmed Ouyahia was sentenced to 15 years and Abdelmalek Sellal to 12, the state-run APS news agency reported. A former industry minister, Abdeslam Bouchouareb, who is on the run abroad, was sentenced in absentia to 20 years, it added.

Angola Commences Corruption Trial Of Ex-President’s Son

Angola Ex-President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos

 

The son of former Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos appeared in court on Monday, at the start of his trial on corruption charges.

It is the first time a member of the dos Santos family appears in dock since President Joao Lourenco came to power in 2017, part of a wave of change that has followed his arrival.

Jose Filomeno dos Santos, 41, also known as “Zenu” is accused of having tried to steal $1.5 billion (1.3 billion euros) from Angola’s sovereign wealth fund during the time that he ran it.

He appeared before the Supreme Court along with three codefendants, who also face charges of money laundering and embezzlement — one of them former central bank governor Valter Filipe da Silva.

Zenu was appointed head of the $5 billion fund in 2013, 34 years into his father’s reign.

In January 2018, only months after Lourenco came to power, Zenu was fired from his position. He was arrested in September that year and held in custody for seven months before being released on bail.

Lourenco has launched a large-scale purge of the dos Santos administration, during which key sectors of the economy were awarded to the former president’s close allies and relatives.

Zenu’s half-sister Isabel dos Santos was ousted from her position as chair of the state oil giant Sonangol even sooner, in November 2017.

Cited as the richest woman in Africa, she is also being investigated for embezzlement.

She has since quit Angola for Britain, from where she has denounced Lourenco, saying she has been censored in the Angolan press and alleging that she quit the country because she had received death threats.

Lourenco is struggling to wean Angola’s economy off of oil, which accounts for one-third of the former Portuguese colony’s GDP and more than 90 percent of exports.

The country is still recovering from a 27-year civil war, which ended in 2002, and the global fall in oil prices in 2014.

Despite extensive oil, gas and mineral reserves, the majority of Angolans live in poverty and continue to rely on subsistence agriculture.

Most members of the dos Santos family have moved abroad.

Nigerian Govt Launches Transparency Portal To Fight Corruption

Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, and the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, attend an event to launch the Open Treasury Portal in Abuja on December 9, 2019.

 

 

The Nigerian Government has launched the Open Treasury Portal.

The Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, represented President Muhammadu Buhari represented at the event which held on Monday in Abuja.

He explained that the initiative was aimed at ensuring transparency in government, as well as curbing corruption in the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) of government.

Senator Alasoadura disclosed that the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation has been mandated to issue a daily treasury statement of government’s transactions.

He was optimistic that the launch of the platform would further strengthen the government’s drive towards curbing corruption through transparency and accountability.

The minister noted that there was already a template on how the portal would work and outlined what was expected of the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and the key agencies.

The treasury statement is expected to encompass all inflow and outflow of transactions of all the respective MDAs of the government.

The event was attended by top government officials, including the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed.

In her remarks, Mrs Ahmed informed the gathering that over 800 MDAs have keyed into the government’s integrated financial management information system.

She also explained how the government achieved this and how the latest initiative would check the menace of corruption within the government.

The Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Mohammed Mongonu, also spoke at the event.

However, he had a differently opinion on the latest initiative to curb corruption and enhance transparency but suggested that the policy be passed as a law.

Flashy Nairobi Governor Pleads Not Guilty To Graft Charges

Nairobi’s Governor Mike Sonko sits in a court room during a hearing after he was arrested on corruption-related charges, at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi, on December 9, 2019. SIMON MAINA / AFP

 

The flashy governor of Nairobi on Monday pleaded not guilty to over 30 charges of money laundering, receiving bribes and conflict of interest in a court appearance held under tight security.

Governor Mike, the latest top official to be hauled in on corruption charges in Kenya, is accused of having benefitted from irregular procurement and payments of $3.5 million (3.1 million euros).

He pleaded “not guilty” to all the charges when he was arraigned before anti-corruption court magistrate Douglas Ogoti, in a packed court secured by anti-riot police.

“You knowingly acquired property and money knowing it was the proceeds of crime,” a state prosecutor read out one of the charges, to which Sonko replied: “Not true.”

State prosecutors also read out details from Sonko’s bank accounts and several dates on which money was wired in from contractors who had won tenders at the county.

Sonko spent the weekend in jail after his dramatic arrest in southern Voi saw him scuffle with police before being bundled in a helicopter and flown to Nairobi.

Born Gidion Mike Mbuvi, the governor formally adopted the nickname “Sonko” which is Swahili slang for a rich and flamboyant person.

It was seen as a maverick move when, in 2017, the ruling party chose him as its candidate for Nairobi’s gubernatorial poll.

He was a controversial politician who has spent time in jail — for failing to respect court dates — and has had to deny allegations of illegal activities, including drug trafficking.

He is beloved by poor Kenyans for running his personally branded fire trucks and ambulances to assist people living in the slums.

He is also known for his style mimicking an American rapper, dripping with expensive gold and diamond jewellery, and on occasion, golden shoes. He recently drew criticism for displaying his opulent dining room on social media.

He also has a fleet of gold-coloured cars.

Kenya has for decades battled the scourge of corruption, and President Uhuru Kenyatta — like many presidents before him — has vowed to combat graft.

Dozens of top executives and government officials have been charged since Kenyatta’s 2017 re-election, including sitting Finance Minister Henry Rotich who was in July charged over an alleged multi-million dollar corruption scandal.

AFP