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Viewing cable 09NAIROBI579, ANTI-CORRUPTION CHIEF ON KENYAN KLEPTOCRACY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09NAIROBI579 2009-03-24 11:11 2011-03-07 21:09 SECRET Embassy Nairobi
R 241146Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 8916
INFO AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
SECDEF WASHDC
FBI WASHINGTON DC
DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
S E C R E T NAIROBI 000579 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/24/2027 
TAGS: KCOR KCRM KDEM PGOV PHUM PINR PREL ECON KE
SUBJECT: ANTI-CORRUPTION CHIEF ON KENYAN KLEPTOCRACY 
 
REF: A) TD-314/014 437-09 B) NAIROBI 411 AND PREVIOUS 
 
Classified By: ECON/C GENE YOUNG FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D) 
 
1.  (C) Summary: Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission Director 
Justice Ringera told Econ/C that while there was no evidence 
of involvement by "big fish" in either the Triton Oil or 
maize scandals (ref b) "every mover and shaker" in the 
Parliament, Cabinet, and the Attorney General's office is 
corrupt.  Ringera indicated that, prior to the formation of 
the Grand Coalition Government (GCG), he had provided 
President Kibaki with a list of individuals who should be 
barred from Cabinet; "it was trashed," he conceded.  Ringera 
said it was "impossible" for the GCG to fight corruption 
because it would be "killing itself."  He noted, however, 
that he saw no alternative to the GCG.  Ringera encouraged 
the USG to pursue visa revocation/denial against high profile 
officials to help create a sense of accountability within 
Kenya's deeply corrupt political elite.  Econ/C indicated 
that corruption would likely be central to future Kenya-U.S. 
relations.  End summary. 
 
2.  (C) Econ/C met March 5 with Kenya Anti-Corruption 
Commission (KCAA) Director Justice Aaron Ringera (ref a) to 
discuss the status of KACC investigations into the Triton Oil 
and maize scandals (ref b) and to discuss the emphasis the 
Obama Administration would likely put on fighting corruption 
in Kenya.  On Triton, Ringera said KCAA would wrap up its 
investigation by the end of March with the submission of a 
report to the Attorney General's office.  He said KCAA had 
extensively interviewed witnesses without finding any 
evidence of high-level involvement.  "It was petty 
corruption, but with grand consequence," he said, adding that 
the fraud at the Kenya Pipeline Corporation went only as high 
as a computer manager who manipulated allocations of oil on 
Triton's behalf.  (Comment: It strikes us as improbable that 
a scandal of this magnitude would not involve higher level 
officials.)  Ringera indicated his confidence that the 
mid-level perpetrators would be prosecuted by the AG.  He 
emphasized that no "big fish" would be charged. 
 
3.  (C) Ringera said KACC's investigation into the maize 
scandal was ongoing, including a forensic audit by an 
international accounting firm beginning in March.  He expects 
the audit will account for all maize bags allocated from the 
Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR), and who bought and sold them. 
He said the evidence showed negligence in the management of 
the SGR but no criminal activity.  According to Ringera, the 
media had sensationalized the "misallocation" of bags into a 
huge scandal.  He characterized the misallocation of bags as 
"commercial immorality" but, again, nothing criminal. 
Ringera then --somewhat contradicting himself -- noted that 
several members of parliament could face charges for ethics 
violations ("influence peddling" he called it) because they 
had pressed the National Cereals and Produce Board to 
allocate maize to their constituencies. When asked by Econ/C 
about the illegal export of maize to southern Sudan, Ringera 
replied that the ban came into effect in December 2008 - a 
time after the maize was allegedly exported.  Ringera said 
there was no evidence of influence peddling by Agricultural 
Minister Ruto or kick backs. As with Triton, there was no 
evidence of "big fish" involvement, he said. 
 
4.  (S) Switching gears, Ringera mused about Kenya's culture 
of impunity, describing what amounts to a kleptocracy.  He 
said "every mover and shaker" in each branch of government is 
corrupt.  Ringera reported that during the formation of the 
GCG he provided President Kibaki with a list of severely 
compromised officials who should not be permitted to serve in 
the new Cabinet.  Ringera conceded that the President 
"trashed the list" and appointed a rogue's gallery including 
-- but not limited to -- Deputy Prime Minister Mudavadi 
(Goldenberg scandal), Interior Minister Saitoti (Goldenberg 
scandal), Higher Education Minister Sally Kosgei (illegal 
acquisition and sale of government land), Industrialization 
Minister Henry Kosgey (fleecing parastatals), and Regional 
Development Minister Gumo (illegal land acquisition/sale). 
 
5.  (C) Ringera said it was "impossible" for the Grand 
Coalition Government (GCG) to fight corruption because it 
would be "killing itself."  However, he also noted that he 
saw no alternative to the GCG.  Ringera encouraged the USG to 
pursue visa revocation/denial against high profile officials 
to help create a sense of accountability within Kenya's 
deeply corrupt political elite. ECON/C told Ringera that the 
USG is reviewing its options on assisting Kenya in the fight 
against corruption.  Pointing to President Obama's inaugural 
remarks as well as his August, 2006 speech at the University 
of Nairobi, ECON/C added that galvanizing the coalition 
government to act on the reform agenda and on corruption are 
and would continue to be a central theme in our bilateral 
relationship. 
 
6.  (C) Comment:  Ringera and his office are losing the fight 
against large scale corruption either through fatigue, a lack 
of legal weapons, or a genuine disinterest in taking on the 
toughest cases.  The Director is starting to sound like he 
falls in the latter category.  But his conclusions about the 
Coalition and the "feeding frenzy" we have described before 
continue to ring true.  At this time, the leadership and 
resolve needed to take on those involved in corruption at the 
most senior levels is lacking within the GOK.  End comment. 
 
RANNEBERGER