NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A Kenyan court charged 12 businessmen and officials for fraud and abuse of office on Wednesday over a multimillion dollar scandal that involved highly inflated contracts allegedly being awarded to phantom companies, charge sheets said.
Eight suspects were charged with conspiracy to commit an economic crime for a scheme to defraud the government of $44.6 million in contracts to modernize police equipment, including computerizing police force operations, according to charge sheets from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
Two suspects, including a senator, were charged with abuse of office and breach of public trust for the procurement of communication services, said the sheets presented in court by public prosecutors.
Seven suspects denied charges. The others weren't in court. Two businesses were also charged.
In 2006, former presidential adviser on corruption, John Githongo, released documents alleging high level corruption in the issuance of 18 contracts dubbed the "Anglo Leasing scandal". The officials and businessmen were charged Wednesday for their alleged involvement in some of these contracts.
An audit of 18 government contracts showed that all were awarded without seeking bids from competitors and suppliers were not required to submit invoices, delivery notes or certificates of completion of works, a local newspaper quoted then Controller and Auditor-General Evan Mwai as saying in 2006.
Some of the security contracts were awarded to companies whose offices could not be traced at addresses indicated in the agreements, according to the report.
Githongo has linked the failure to set up the security projects— which were part of the awarded contracts— to the country's struggle to contain extremist attacks.
"If the Anglo Leasing security contracts that are still being investigated today 10 years later, hadn't been predated upon, hadn't been 'eaten', we'd (be) far more ready than we are for the potentially existential threat al-Shabab poses to Kenya's State," Githongo told The Associated Press by email from Stanford University, California, where he is a visiting scholar.
Al-Shabab extremists from Somalia have carried out 129 attacks in Kenya since Oct. 2011 saying its retribution for the Kenyan troop presence in Somalia.