Envoys warn of travel ban on corrupt officials

Diplomats from 11 countries led by US and Britain have threatened to impose travel bans on Kenyans implicated in corruption amid reports of high-level graft in the country.

The envoys, including those from Canada, Japan and seven European countries, issued the warning Thursday following a meeting with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

Reports alleging theft of taxpayers’ cash and purchase of goods and services by civil servants at inflated prices have raised pressure on President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has promised to tackle rampant corruption in his government.

READ: Top donors meet EACC Thursday amid graft reports

Several countries, including the UK and the US, have in the past issued travel bans to senior government officials, like former Transport minister Chris Murungaru in 2005.

“We are prepared to take further steps to support the Kenyan authorities, including, when permitted by law, the return of stolen assets to the Kenyan people or to impose travel restrictions on those responsible for graft,” Robert Godec, the US ambassador, said in a statement on behalf of the envoys.

Donors and several other prominent individuals have voiced concerns about corruption in Kenya in recent days.

“We have long had a policy where those implicated in graft are not permitted to travel. There is a list of people that has long been in place and will continue to be in place,” the UK High Commissioner Christian Turner said.

The warnings come in the wake of reports alleging purchase of goods and services at inflated prices in the Devolution ministry and theft of public funds.

The list of items bought at highly inflated prices includes 100 units of 4GB flash disks for Huduma Kenya secretariat at Sh242,500 in November 2013 – meaning each flash disk cost Sh2,425 compared to a market price of less than Sh1,000.

Adobe InDesign CS6 software was reportedly bought at a cost of Sh1.9 million despite the fact that it is available for $30 (S,060) a month.

The reports also came in the wake of loss of Sh791 million through corruption at the National Youth Service (NYS), which falls under the Devolution ministry.

READ: PS disowns inflated price list as Waiguru faces EACC

The Interior ministry has also been questioned on suspect transactions amounting to S.8 billion.

There has also been concern over the pace of investigating and prosecuting 176 individuals who President Kenyatta told Parliament more than eight months ago were suspected of corrupt dealings.

The envoys urged the government to strengthen the agencies charged with fighting graft.