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Fugitive from Kenya arrested in UK on graft charges

Discussion in 'Kenyan News and Politics' started by Dingswayo, May 27, 2011.

  1. Dingswayo

    Dingswayo JF-Expert Member

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    May 27, 2011
    Joined: May 26, 2009
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    Fugitive from Kenya arrested in UK on graft charges | Top News | Reuters
    By Michael Holden
    LONDON (Reuters)

    A businessman wanted in Kenya over an oil scandal that threatened fuel supplies to east Africa's biggest economy and led to high-level sackings was arrested in Britain on Thursday, police said.
    A spokesman for London's Metropolitan Police said officers from its extradition unit arrested Yagnesh Devani, 46, on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud. He appeared before a central London court and was remanded in custody.

    Kenyan authorities accused the state-owned Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) of releasing petroleum products worth nearly $100 million to Devani's company, Triton Petroleum, in 2008.
    The oil products were being held as collateral for bank loans to KPC.

    The head of KPC was fired in January 2009 and the scandal caused ructions in Kenya's fragile coalition government. Police accused Devani of stealing $12.2 million from Kenya Commercial Bank, one of the banks that had loaned money to KPC, and issued an arrest warrant for him.

    Devani's arrest comes in the same week visiting British Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham, urged Kenya's Attorney General Amos Wako to speed up the extradition of two high-profile Kenyan graft suspects to Jersey.

    The Nation newspaper quoted Wako on Tuesday as saying Bellingham had assured the Kenyan government that an arrest warrant had been issued in Britain for Devani.
    Kenyan officials rejected suggestions in local media that there was any link between the two graft cases.

    Analysts say graft has tarnished east Africa's biggest economy for decades, stifling growth and discouraging investors. President Mwai Kibaki came to power in 2002 on an anti-graft platform but no minister has yet been convicted of the offence.

    Kenya ranked 154th out of 178 in Transparency International's 2010 corruption perceptions index and the country is under pressure from donor countries to crack down on high-level corruption.

    "His (Devani's) arrest is a very major step against corruption. It opens a new phase in the fight against corruption in Kenya and is also a message to others -- you can run but you can't hide," Patrick Lumumba, the director of the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC), told Reuters.

    "The arrest is the start of the process of extradition."
    Lumumba said Kenya has had a long-standing request with the British government for Devani's arrest and extradition.

    He said Devani may have multiple citizenships, but had committed a crime in Kenya while living and working in the country and would be subject to Kenyan laws.
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