There are substantial unanswered questions about the proceeds of Kenya’s Eurobond sales, and the murkiness accompanying all this is unnecessary. Likewise, anyone who pays any attention at all knew long before the 2014 Eurobond transactions that it is a well established practice for major transactions by the Government of Kenya to be subject to what might be called a “corruption tax” or a “re-election tax” where some portion of the funds goes separately to the politicians in power directly through cash payments, through payments to companies in which they are equity participants in some fashion (“Mobiltelea”, “Goldenburg”, “Anglo Leasing”), payments to companies owned by their immediate family members or other relatives, etc.
The primary assurance internationally that there was nothing untoward about the handling of the bond sale proceeds and that there has been nothing to see has come from the statements to that effect from the IMF, accompanied by Nairobi visits by Ms. Legard.
For a lot of people in the West, who can accept that power in Kenya does not necessarily equate to complete veracity on issues of grand corruption, there seems to be a strange willingness to take the word of political figures from Western countries when they achieve power or status in some international institution. There can be some legitimate reasons for this, perhaps, but there are also illegitimate ones. In this case, the United States has the responsibility to get to the bottom of the Eurobond matter rather than simply taking the word of whomever at the IMF. We all saw some strange dealings at the World Bank in relation to the Kibaki re-election campaign in 2007 and we all know that “the Nairobi curse” makes it very seductive for international organizations who work in and out of Nairobi and enjoy its comforts and convenience to look the other way on matters of corruption that would offend their “hosts” in the Government of Kenya.
“Eurobond billions: the international side of the story” is one of David Ndii’s recent columns on the subject in the Daily Nation. Ndii asks explicitly why the IMF has “cooked the books” one way to address missing Eurobond proceeds while Kenya’s Treasury “cooked the books” in a contradictory way. Given what we know was going on in Mozambique and in Malaysia–as well as all of what we know about the establish rule of corruption in Kenya–it is grossly negligent to allow these questions to go unanswered. If there is a source of the smoke on Kenya’s bond sale proceeds other than the fires of corruption, it ought to be easy enough to see. I’m from Missouri, and just being from Paris and telling me with a French rather than Kenyan accent is not a substitute for showing me.
[This post has been slightly edited.]