Karua admits campaign got Sh2mn from BAT man, but it wasn’t bribe

Former presidential candidate Martha Karua has now admitted receiving money from an individual affiliated to British American Tobacco but for her presidential campaign.

Karua who has been mentioned as among Kenyan top officials and politicians who received bribes from BAT says she received Sh2 million from Paul Hopkins.

“I am aware that a businessman whose name I remember as Paul affiliated with BAT made what I understood to be a personal donation to my presidential campaign. At no time did I ever discuss the award or influence of contracts/tenders whether at KRA or indeed within any other government entity with Paul or anyone else,” Karua admits.

Hopkins, who worked for BAT in Kenya for 13 years, has admitted paying bribes after being told it was the cost of doing business in Africa.

“If I was aware of the origin and the alleged intention of the donation would I have accepted it? The answer is absolutely not. My policy was and still is to reject such donations,” she says in response to an inquiry from the UK’s Independent newspaper.

Earlier on Saturday through her Twitter account, Karua had denied claims that she received any money from BAT to block a rival firm from a multi-million pound contract.

According to the Independent, BAT paid £50,000 (Sh7.6 million) to Karua – a former Justice Minister – to prevent a rival company supplying Kenya with technology to combat cigarette smuggling.

“If any person within my campaign team or beyond purported to accept a donation in exchange for influence of government procurement was acting beyond the scope of their authority, without my knowledge and in their individual capacity NOT for me or my campaign,” Karua stated.

The report states that in return for the money, paid in cash via a middle man, BAT obtained key confidential Kenyan Revenue Authority (KRA) documents outlining the £100 million (Sh15.2 billion) five-year contract for new technology designed to stamp out tobacco smuggling.

They then had the contract deliberately delayed while they secretly lobbied to get their own system chosen.

The bribery expose was first published by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), through its investigation programme Panorama, accusing BAT of bribing senior politicians and top civil servants in East Africa.

The payments were revealed when a whistle-blower shared hundreds of secret documents.

According to documents with the BBC, BAT lobbyist Julie Adelle-Owino requested the purchase of a business class plane ticket to London for Kenya’s former Minister for Trade, Moses Wetangula in July 2012.

The email says Wetangula “would be hosted at Globe House” – BAT’s London headquarters.

While in London, Wetangula said he and several members of the Kenyan delegation stayed at the Holiday Inn Regent Park Hotel.

Wetangula, who is now the Senate Minority Leader has denied allegations that he was bribed by BAT, terming the claims as ‘nauseating, unfortunate, scandalous, malicious and slanderous to the extreme’.

Wetangula insists that he has never received any kind of bribe and said the report was malicious.