Kenya must prosecute education graft culprits: donors

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Donors are pressing the Kenyan authorities to prosecute education ministry staff implicated in a recent 100-million-dollar graft scandal, a joint statement said Wednesday.

The World Bank, the UN children's fund and the development agencies of Britain and Canada called on Kenya to "hand over the names of all ministry... staff implicated in the loss of funds to the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission for further investigation, and subsequent prosecution in the courts."

The donors said Kenya's finance ministry showed them the results of its in-depth audit into the way education funds were spent in the period 2005-2009 that indicated "documentary justification is not fully in order" for about 8.4 billion Kenyan shillings (105 million dollars) spent over the four years.

This latest audit indicates graft on a much larger scale than an earlier July 2009 audit that found that 2.9 million dollars of education funding could not be accounted for.

"Financial mismanagement in the ministry of education appears to have resulted in the significant loss of funds intended to support children's education," the World Bank's Kenya Director Johannes Zutt said.

"As a result, some children will grow up without an education or with a lower quality education than they might have received. This is simply unacceptable," Zutt said, speaking on behalf of the four donors.

In January, the United States suspended a seven-million-dollar programme for the education ministry over the scandal and called for those culpable to be "prosecuted and put behind bars".

A month earlier Britain froze funding to the ministry.

"The findings of this report are shocking and completely unacceptable," Britain's Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell was quoted as saying Wednesday.

"We will go after every penny of British taxpayers' money that has been stolen and those responsible for fraud must be prosecuted through the Kenyan courts."

© 2010 AFP

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