June 4, 2018 / 5:44 PM / 6 months ago

Kenyan officials to face fresh vetting in graft clampdown

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya’s government said on Monday it had asked public procurement and accounting officers to step aside and to undergo a new vetting process that will involve scrutiny of their personal wealth and service record.

President Uhuru Kenyatta pledged to stamp out corruption when he was first elected in 2013 but critics say he has been slow to pursue top officials and ministers.

In another reminder of the challenge facing Kenya, authorities charged two dozen suspects including both public officers and private business people last week over the theft of nearly $100 million of public funds. [nL5N1SZ0GJ]

In a statement posted on Twitter on Monday, government spokesman Mwenda Njoka said the officials being asked to step aside included heads of procurements and accounts units in ministries, departments, agencies and state corporations.

The officials had been “instructed to step aside with immediate effect”.

The statement said they would be required to submit “personal information” including assets, liabilities and their record of service to the head of public service by June 8 to facilitate a fresh vetting process.

“The exercise is geared toward determining suitability to continue holding public office in public trust, and promote confidence in the public service,” the statement said.

Last month’s theft took place at the government National Youth Service, a state agency that trains young people and deploys them to projects ranging from construction to traffic control.

Investigators found that funds had been stolen through fictitious invoices for goods such as firewood and stationery and multiple payments on one supplier invoice. [nL5N1T02Y3]

Reporting by Humphrey Malalo; writing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Gareth Jones

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