NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya’s anti-corruption chief said on Tuesday his agency will in the next week forward the case files of four former and sitting cabinet ministers accused of graft to the attorney general, for possible prosecution.
Patrick Lumumba, the agency’s head, did not name the specific ministers whose cases will be sent to the attorney general. He said the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) was investigating the lifestyles of some high-ranking civil servants, as part of the nation’s renewed war on corruption.
“The investigations into four ministers are going very well, in the next one week we should be making appropriate recommendations to the attorney general,” he said.
“We want to know by what magic they (government officials) have acquired their wealth while their salaries are known,” Lumumba added at the launch of the body’s annual report.
At least six ministers have been suspended or stepped aside over graft allegations since President Mwai Kibaki came to power in 2002 on an anti-graft platform.
Four regained their seats after their cases never made it to court, while Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula and Higher Education Minister William Ruto remain suspended from their posts.
Analysts say corruption has tarnished the image of east Africa’s biggest economy and has stifled economic growth, deterring potential investors.
Kenya ranked 154th out of 178 in Transparency International’s 2010 corruption perceptions index, on a par with Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo-Brazzavile and Russsia.
KACC said it had traced illegally acquired assets including cash and landed property worth an estimated 2.34 billion shilling this year.
It said it had completed forensic investigations into the irregular sale and distribution of maize at the National Cereal and Produce Board worth 2.4 billion, and fraudulent alterations of revenue figures at the Central Bank worth 524 million shillings.
A new constitution enacted in August gives the KACC powers to prosecute suspects instead of leaving it to the attorney general.
Analysts believe this will make the KACC more effective in fighting the graft and impunity that has plagued the east African nation since independence from Britain in 1963.
Corruption scandals routinely headline local media but no ministers or high level official have been convicted.
Sleaze has spread from politicians to civil servants private business and ordinary Kenyans who part with little sums of money, known locally as ‘kitu kidogo’ or something small to get services mainly in government offices.