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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 February 2006, 12:45 GMT
Kenyan VP passes buck over graft
Kenyan Vice-President Moody Awori
Moody Awori denies any wrong-doing
Vice-President Moody Awori has blamed civil servants after being grilled by MPs over one of Kenya's biggest ever corruption scandals.

The Public Accounts Committee is following up on a damning report from former corruption tsar John Githongo.

Mr Awori said he was misled over a $200m contract his department signed with a phantom company called Anglo Leasing to supply hi-tech passports.

Three ministers have already resigned, but Mr Awori refuses to step down.

All protest their innocence.

It is the first time a Kenyan vice-president has appeared before a parliamentary committee, which examines public spending.

The veteran politician, known as "Uncle Moody", spent two hours before the MPs before emerging from parliament to tell reporters that he had "clarified matters" to the committee.

"I did not at any time engage in any act of cover-up or any wrongdoing... I do not know who the Anglo Leasing Company Ltd is and I have never dealt with this entity or its officers," he said in a statement.

The vice president said that as a government minister he has nothing to do with "technical matters" like contracts which was the responsibility of senior civil servants.

And he blamed his staff for researching and drafting his misleading parliamentary speech.


The BBC's Peter Greste says it is not clear if the vice president has done enough to end the increasingly loud calls for his resignation, but the ongoing investigation still threatens to bring down the entire government.
Kenyan anti-corruption demonstrators in Nairobi
Pressure has been growing for Mr Awori to resign

Kenya's president, who was elected on a policy of zero tolerance for corruption, has refused to sack his deputy and is seriously damaged - whatever the outcome, he says.

Public Accounts Committee head Uhuru Kenyatta, who leads the opposition Kanu party, said he was "shocked" after parliamentarians travelled to London earlier this month to speak to the exiled former anti-graft chief John Githongo, whose accusations in the Anglo Leasing case gave rise to the current parliamentary inquiry.

He showed them evidence, including tapes, linking a number of senior politicians with multi-million dollar fraud schemes.

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