US bans entry of former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and his family

By JOSEPH WANGUI

Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and his immediate family members have been banned from traveling to the United States due to corruption allegations related to abuse of power and corruption.

According to the announcement made Tuesday by Public Affairs Counselor Eric Watnik at the US Embassy in Nairobi, Sonko’s ban from the United States is based on “involvement in significant corruption” during his tenure. short term at City Hall.

Watnik said the State Department declared Sonko, his wife Primrose Mbuvi, daughters Saumu and Salma, and minor son ineligible to enter the United States. This designation means that they have also been banned from doing business with the United States.

“His corruption (that of Sonko) has been widely reported in the local and international press. With this designation, the department reaffirms the need for accountability, transparency and respect for the rule of law in Kenya’s democratic institutions, government processes and actions of public servants,” Watnik said.

He continued, “The United States will continue to use all available tools to fight corruption and promote respect for human rights around the world.” He released the communication on behalf of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Bribes, bribes

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The adviser revealed that the department is in possession of credible information that Sonko received kickbacks in the form of kickbacks from his associates in exchange for awarding calls to offers of several million shillings.

“The Department has credible information that the former Governor was involved in significant corruption when he was Governor of Nairobi. We have determined that he received bribes in exchange for improper assignments of contracts to his associates for personal gain,” Watnik said.

According to the diplomat, Sonko’s corrupt acts have undermined the rule of law, the Kenyan public, government processes and officials.

However, he neither named the said associates, nor their nationalities, nor revealed whether they had also been designated as persons ineligible to travel to the United States.

Watnik said the ban is based on the provisions of Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act of 2020.

Asked if there were other Kenyan government officials on the radar of the investigation and if Kenyans should expect a similar announcement soon, Watnik said he could not disclose or speculate because the department conducts its investigations privately and makes them public after the decision.

Since Sonko is facing an active case in the Milimani Anti-Corruption Court, the diplomat said the outcome of the trial will not affect the US government’s decision to ban him.

“Today’s action is based on the information available to us and we believe that information to be proven and largely credible. It touches on corruption in terms of bribes for the illegal award of contracts. I can’t go into speculation, but it may not be affected by the court’s decision,” Watnik said.

Although he said that the US government does not have the financial value of kickbacks and bribes, in one of the cases Sonko faced, he allegedly received a bribe. wine of 8.4 million shillings from ROG Security Ltd through Anthony Otieno between December 27 and 28. , 2018. The money was a benefit under a city county government contract for the rental of heavy equipment.

Sonko becomes the second Kenyan to be publicly banned from traveling to the United States under President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government over corruption allegations.

In 2019 Busia Senator Amos Wako (former Attorney General), his wife and son were banned from traveling to the United States over similar allegations.

“Economic prosperity for all Kenyans is only possible by defeating the scourge of corruption, which also requires a functioning, fair and transparent criminal justice system. The United States will continue to stand with all Kenyans as we work to curb and punish corruption in Kenya,” the 2019 statement on Mr. Wako read.

Read: Banned Wako asks for US transplant details

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Sonko is currently facing three different cases in the Milimani Anti-Corruption Court. They relate to 381 million shillings lost to the account of the county government due to money laundering, bribes, conflicts of interest and acquisition of the proceeds of crime. He is also fighting charges of abuse of office, improper payments, improper granting of benefits and conspiracy to commit a corruption offence.

Read: Mike Sonko: discreet at the time of judgment

In the first case, he is charged alongside Fredrick Odhiambo aka Fred Oyugi as Yiro Enterprises Limited, Antony Otieno Ombok and ROG Securities Ltd for embezzling county government funds to the tune of 14 million shillings.

The former governor is accused of having a conflict of interest in the awarding of tenders by the county government and the acquisition of proceeds of crime.

The court heard that the governor received 8.4 million shillings from ROG Security Ltd through Anthony Otieno between December 27 and 28, 2018.

The money was a benefit under a contract made by the county government for the rental of heavy equipment. He is also accused of having an indirect private interest in the award of a tender to Yiro Enterprises Ltd by receiving 8.4 million shillings from Fredrick Odhiambo.

On other counts, he is jointly charged with Odhiambo, Otieno and ROG Security Ltd. The three are charged with money laundering and conspiracy to commit a bribery offense by hiring heavy machinery which resulted in the loss of 14 million shillings from the Nairobi County Government. .

In the second case, he is accused of asking for a 10 million shillings bribe from a company that the town hall had contracted to collect revenue.

Prosecutors said he demanded the bribe from Web Tribe Limited through ROG Security Ltd as an inducement to facilitate payments and his contract with Nairobi County.

He allegedly committed the offense between January 10 and 19, 2019 in Nairobi, when Web Tribe’s e-revenue collection contract with City Hall via JamboPay was due to expire.

The e-payment company was contracted in 2014 by Governor Evans Kidero’s administration to deliver, implement and maintain an automated revenue collection and payment solution for five years. The contract ended last April.

In the third case, Sonko is charged alongside 16 others with the loss of public funds amounting to 357 million shillings from the Nairobi County Government.

Prosecutors said that between May 24, 2018 and March 28, 2019, Sonko, together with others, conspired to commit a corruption offense, namely the embezzlement of public funds in the amount of Sh357,390,229. of the county government.

He is free on cash bail of 15 million shillings.

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