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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 June, 2004, 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK
Key suspect alleges Moi took cash
Kamlesh Pattni
Mr Pattni claims the scam started out with the best of intentions
A key suspect in Kenya's biggest corruption case to date has claimed he gave money-filled suitcases to former President Daniel arap Moi.

Kamlesh Pattni, a major shareholder of export firm Goldenberg International, alleged during his testimony that he "never visited Moi empty handed".

Mr Moi has always denied being part of a scam that involved re-exporting gold and diamonds.

It is thought to have cost Kenya as much as $600m between 1990 and 1993.

Investigation

President Mwai Kibaki set up the inquiry a year ago to find out why money was paid to Goldenberg from the Kenyan Treasury.

Mr Pattni claims to have given Mr Moi a total of 7.5 million shillings ($95,000) during a number of visits to State House - his cut of the business.

He also alleges that the then president set up a hotline between himself and Mr Pattni.

Former president of Kenya Daniel arap Moi
It's not clear whether Mr Moi will have to give evidence

The two men used code words and Mr Moi liked to talk in Swahili when he spoke, according to Mr Pattni's claims.

During earlier testimony, the inquiry heard Mr Pattni say that the scam started as a noble idea but turned into a scandal after it was sabotaged by greedy individuals.

The plan had been to legitimise the re-export of gold and diamonds coming into Kenya from third countries.

Kenya itself has negligible amounts of the commodities.

Mr Moi, it is alleged, was keen to earn foreign currency for Kenya, seeing it as an opportunity to cut dependence on aid from the IMF and the World Bank.

Prosecutors, however, say the exports never took place.

Focus

President Kibaki launched a crackdown on corruption after coming to power but progress has been modest, observers say.

According to a survey by campaign group Transparency International, the percentage of encounters with officials where bribes were demanded has fallen from 65% to 40%.

The greater risk involved, however, now means that the bribes that do get paid are bigger.

The US recently withheld aid from eight African countries, including Kenya, citing their failure to control graft.

The IMF and World Bank stopped lending to Kenya in 2000 because of concerns about corruption.

They have since then changed their stance, following President Kibaki's initiatives.

Kenyan officials have said they hope to recover some of the billions of dollars that are thought to have been lost to corruption during Mr Moi's 24 years of rule.

Last month, the government said it had traced $1bn to the foreign accounts of three unnamed Kenyans.


SEE ALSO:
Suspect 'links' Moi to gold scam
20 May 04  |  Africa
Kenya bribes are growing bigger
17 May 04  |  Business
Moi 'ordered' Goldenberg payment
17 Feb 04  |  Africa


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