November 19, 2015 / 8:00 AM / 3 years ago

High-ranking Kenyan civil servants charged over graft investigation

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Two high-ranking Kenyan civil servants were on Wednesday charged in court over trying to block another senior official from informing the police about a plot to steal 695 million shillings ($6.80 million).

Public frustration has grown over parliamentary investigations into multi-million-dollar government contracts, piling pressure on President Uhuru Kenyatta to root out rampant corruption in a nation of 44 million people.

Principal Secretary Peter Mangiti, the top civil servant at the Devolution Ministry, and Nelson Githinji, the director general of state-run National Youth Service, have been charged with “tampering with public officers”. Both pleaded not guilty.

The pair, and another businessman due to be charged at a later date, are accused of “threatening and intimidating” a senior civil servant and warning him about cooperating with the police over a conspiracy to steal 695 million shillings.

Many other lower-ranking civil servants were charged with “conspiracy to defraud” the National Youth Service.

Mangiti and Githinji were granted bail of 3 million shillings. Other accused civil servants were also given bail.

Kenya has a history of corruption scandals that have failed to result in high-profile convictions, angering the public who say it shows how top officials act with impunity, and encourages graft by those in lower posts.

In an unusual move, the ambassadors of the United States, Britain and nine other countries said on Thursday that Kenya faced a “corruption crisis” and they would step up efforts to prevent the flow of illicit funds out of the country.

Reporting by Humphrey Malalo; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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