Kenya central bank governor challenges graft allegations

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 12, 2014 10:58 AM

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya's central bank governor has asked a court to prevent an anti-corruption agency or other authorities from charging him over graft allegations, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

The move is aimed at halting a case that could see Governor Njuguna Ndung'u forced to step aside.

This week, the chief prosecutor ordered the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to charge Ndung'u in a case related to the award of a tender to install security software at the bank. The anti-graft commission has yet to act.

If charged, the governor would be suspended, creating uncertainty in east Africa's biggest economy at a time when many emerging markets are being buffeted by the planned reduction of U.S. stimulus, although Kenya has so far escaped unscathed.

The governor's lawyer, Donald Kipkorir, told Reuters in a text message he had filed a petition to stop the EACC, public prosecutors, the police and the attorney general "from arresting or charging the governor with any corruption offences".

Petition documents were submitted to the High Court in Nairobi on Wednesday. The lawyer said the petition would be heard by the court on Friday.

Among the points raised in the petition were that the central bank governor was not involved in the tender process and that the tender was awarded by an authorized body.

In the documents, Ndung'u rejected allegations of losses related to the contract award, saying the contract went to the lowest bidder and had in fact not yet been signed.

An EACC spokesman said earlier on Wednesday the agency was planning to summon the governor, but said the timing depended on his whereabouts. Petition documents said the Ndung'u was in Paris attending an event in an official capacity.

Kenya is in the process of issuing a debut Eurobond worth up to $2 billion, with marketing scheduled to start this month.

(Reporting by Humphrey Malalo and Duncan Miriri; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Drazen Jorgic and Catherine Evans)