The WikiLeaks website first rattled Kenya’s government when it released the Kroll report showing how the regime of former President Daniel arap Moi siphoned off over Sh130 billion from government coffers.
The report, leaked in August 2007, exposed an intricate web of sleaze, in which influential people in the Moi regime used shell companies and clandestine overseas trusts to stash huge amounts of money abroad.
Mr Mwalimu Mati, who worked with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in the run-up to the release of the Kroll report, said the website had succeeded in its mission of exposing corruption.
Mr Mati who runs Mars Group, an anti-corruption watchdog, said WikiLeaks provided an avenue “for safe whistleblowing” and noted that the information normally submitted to the website was credible.
“These are not rumours,” he said, noting that there was truth in the US ambassador’s assessment that top players in the coalition government have been perpetuating impunity.
The report on extrajudicial killings by the Oscar Foundation, Mr Mati said, was also published on the website, only for the activists – Oscar King’ara and Paul Oulu – who had compiled the report to be killed.
“The Prime Minister (Raila Odinga) personally promised that the government will carry out investigations into this matter (killings). To this day, what has happened?” he posed.
Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have since dismissed the US cables released as “gossip between diplomats and their masters”.
The two principals said the leaks were a distraction to Kenyans keen on constitutional reforms. But history records that President Kibaki commissioned Kroll, an international risk consultancy firm, as soon as he took power in 2003.
Then, Mr John Githongo was the permanent secretary based at State House in charge of governance and ethics. Its report was submitted in 2004, and to date, no action had been taken on it.
Upon its release in 2007, Mr Githongo had already quit his job of advising President Kibaki on corruption matters, citing frustrations and the President’s apathy towards fighting corruption.
Government spokesman Alfred Mutua, then, was quoted saying the “report was based on a lot of hearsay.” The Kroll report was handed over to the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission for action. On Saturday, the Sunday Nation placed a call to Kacc’s boss, Prof Patrick Lumumba, but he said he was held up.
Last week, Kacc showed its teeth when it brought back businessman Deepak Kamani, one of those linked to the Anglo Leasing scandal.
The Mutual Legal Assistance Bill, which will be instrumental in helping the government trace the money stashed abroad, has been waiting in the House for approval. It is now at the Committee Stage where amendments are expected.
In the Kroll report, the investigators alleged that a Kenyan bank was involved in getting vast sums of money of out of the country via its foreign currency accounts.
The same bank had already laundered $200m (Sh16 billion) on behalf of the former Nigerian president Sani Abacha, with the assistance of a Swiss-based financier.
The Kroll report also alleged that associates of President Moi had been linked to trade in drugs and money laundering.
The countries where some of the money was traced to include Britain, Switzerland, South Africa, United States, Namibia, Malawi and little known states like Cayman Islands and Brunei.
Among the assets accumulated by Moi associates include multi-million pound properties in world cities like London, New York and Johannesburg. Others include bank accounts spread all over Europe, America and Africa containing billions of shillings.
The report detailed corruption deals from the early 1980s to the day President Moi vacated State House on December 30, 2002.
A businessman, then based in Nairobi, is named as the man behind the creation of dummy trusts in the Cayman Islands.
Through the trust, he is said to have invested a $500 million (Sh40 billion) in Europe on behalf of the retired president’s associates.
In South Africa, the report said, a man fronting for the Moi associates closed down 74 corporations linked to the retired president’s clique.
Besides using fronts to transact business, the clique used the names of lawyers and law firms to conceal their real owners.
This may not be the last of the WikiLeaks releases as the country dances to the reform wind blowing across the country.