Kenya freezes assets of corruption suspects

By Guled Mohamed

Nairobi - Kenyan authorities will start freezing the assets of individuals suspected of being involved in corruption in a bid to recover looted state funds, the justice minister said on Wednesday.

President Mwai Kibaki's government has come under mounting domestic and foreign pressure to act over two graft scandals that have damaged its credibility and put the spotlight on corruption in East Africa's most developed country.

"We are taking steps of freezing and recovery of assets both locally and internationally," Justice Minister Martha Karua told a news conference, without giving details.

"There are buildings here in town, complexes which are known to have been built on looted funds. We are moving very swiftly to recover these assets on behalf of Kenyans and trace others that may not have come to our attention."

Karua's announcement came after three ministers resigned over the last two weeks after being linked to the "Anglo Leasing" and "Goldenberg" scandals. The ministers have all denied involvement.

In the Goldenberg saga $1-billion of public funds were stolen in a bogus gold and diamond export scheme in the 1990s, while in the more recent Anglo Leasing scam contracts worth hundreds of million of dollars were awarded to a phantom firm.

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