Karua calls for probe into BAT activities in Kenya

NARC-Kenya leader Martha Karua now wants the British Serious Fraud Office and Kenyan authorities to launch investigations into the unethical practices of British American Tobacco (BAT) following reports in British media that the firm offered bribes to public officials to advance its interests.

Karua said she is ready to cooperate with investigators to unravel the truth behind the allegations.

“In view of clear evidence of illegal activity in Kenya by BAT, are Kenyan regulators and authorities investigating BAT activities and their conduct during the 2013 election and beyond?” she posed.

“I would encourage the SFO in the UK to disclose the campaign contributions to all Kenyan politicians and presidential campaigns by BAT. We welcome investigation into BAT’s illegal activities in Kenya by both the SFO as well as Kenyan authorities. I have maintained that I will cooperate with all investigations whether locally or abroad,” she said.

An expose by a British newspaper sensationally accused her of pocketing a Sh7.5 million bribe but Karua admitted to having received Sh2 million as a donation to her presidential campaign from Paul Hopkins who said he was a businessman affiliated to BAT.

She also wants the investigations to look into contributions BAT may have made into the campaigns of the remaining candidates.

“As Kenyans we must ask what was the full extent of BAT donations in the 2013 General Election and to which parties or persons as they evidently were an active campaign contributor.”

Karua’s lawyer Gitobu Imanyara said they were not accorded a fair hearing by the British newspaper and are now considering whether to take a legal action.

The 2013 presidential candidate on Saturday denied claims that she was bribed by BAT to block a rival firm from supplying Kenya with technology to combat cigarette smuggling.

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.

Karua becomes the second opposition figure to be linked to the BAT bribery exposé in Africa.

A BBC programme last month, claimed that in July 2012, BAT hosted Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula at The Globe House, BAT’s London headquarters, when he was the Trade Minister. Wetang’ula has denied the allegations and threatened to sue the BBC for reporting the issue.