NAIROBI (Reuters) - The Kenyan government dismissed on Friday as a “political gimmick” the leak of a 2004 report accusing former President Daniel arap Moi and his inner circle of stealing $2 billion (1 billion pounds) of state money.
Moi stepped down in 2002 to the heckles of many Kenyans fed up with the endemic corruption that plagued his 24 years in power and nearly ruined east Africa’s most vibrant economy.
British newspaper the Guardian said on Friday a 110-page report by risk consultancy group Kroll exposed a web of shell companies, hidden trusts and frontmen that Moi’s family and associates used to funnel vast sums into foreign countries.
If true, the Guardian said it would put Moi on a par with Africa’s other “great kleptocrats” — the former dictators of Zaire and Nigeria, Mobutu Sese Seko and Sani Abacha.
Neither Moi nor his representatives were immediately available for comment. But his lawyers have repeatedly denied corruption allegations in the past.
The expose surfaced three days after Moi publicly backed President Mwai Kibaki’s re-election bid, in a boost for the man who was once Moi’s vice-president and finance minister.
“The government of Kenya believes that the leaking of this report is meant to score political points against Kibaki,” government spokesman Alfred Mutua said.
“This report touches on at least 50 individuals — why did they just isolate the Moi family? It’s a political gimmick.”
The government had asked Kroll investigators to help find assets stolen and hidden abroad during the Moi years. But Mutua said the report, submitted in 2004, was incomplete.
“The report was very inconclusive. It can’t stand up in a court of law,” he said.
“They were looking at bank accounts but couldn’t say where the money came from. It’s all based on hearsay.”
A British-based Kroll spokeswoman declined to comment on the Guardian report.
Five years after Moi left office following a landslide opposition election victory, the 82-year-old former school teacher who calls himself the “Professor of Politics” remains a key political player, whose opinions are closely watched.
The Guardian report said funds stolen during his rule were used to buy multimillion-pound properties in London, New York and South Africa, while “hundreds of millions” were deposited in foreign bank accounts.
Moi’s two sons — Gideon and Philip — were reported to be worth a combined 930 million pounds.
Additional reporting by Luke Baker in London