America Digs Into Kibaki, Raila Bank Accounts

US President George Bush last week issued what sounded like an ultimatum to warring Kenyan leaders who are yet to reach a peace deal under the Koffi Annan mediation effort, that there was now no turning back on a return to democracy and an end to violence.

Bush has joined other world leaders in warning that perpetrators of post-election killings which US Human Rights Watch say were pre-planned and executed by a "secret" army especially in Rift Valley and other parts of the country must answer for the death of more than 1,000 Kenyans, the displacement of close to 600,000 and the destruction of property worth billions of shillings. The Rights body has further warned that killings could resume if the Annan team failed to come up with a workable power sharing formula or Annan as little as made as if to head to the

The human rights watch whose report was published in the Los Angeles Times has insisted that it has credible evidence of "ethnic cleansing" in the Rift Valley targeting certain communities executed by a well-trained "secret army" funded and sponsored by senior politicians some of whom have been banned from ever stepping on US soil. The rights watchdog says it has interviewed several locals in parts of areas rocked by post-election violence and warns that things could get out of hand as some young men have declared " they were ready for war if Annan fails".

Alarmed at events in Nairobi for years a reliable western ally during the cold war and now the global war on terrorism, a tough talking Bush who has dispatched his secretary of stateondoleeza Rice this week to deliver a personal message to President Mwai Kibaki and ODM supremo Raila Odinga is understood to be pushing for an immediate power sharing formula acceptable to all sides and which puts an end to all post-election violence. Bush is making it clear it will not be business as usual and the two men will be held accountable for whatever befalls the country.

The two main protagonists in the battle for power that has seen Kenya descend into a pogrom hitherto seen only in the war for independence when blood flowed through the valleys and hillsides are now facing a scenario whereby they will have to either stick together or hang separately. The issue is no longer about who won the election or not, or whether turnout in some areas grossing even 98 per cent was suspect, or whether queries raised on presidential tallying were irregular, what is at stake Pentagon sources made it clear in Washington is saving the country from burning and disintegrating.

According to highly placed sources within the US Embassy in Nairobi, the world's sole super power has now entered a second phase of finding a solution to the Kenyan problem. Compared to what the US has been doing before in its bids to bring understanding to the country, our sources said, what Mwai Kibaki and Raila are now about to undergo in the hands of the Americans. "They aint seen nothing yet," was the terse remark an American official said on being asked what form the new tactics would take.

The source further warned that associates of the two who may have participated in actively training or arming secret armies now believed to be on standby in some parts of the country ready to unleash mayhem would face the might of the super power. The sources echoed what Kisumu town MP Shakir recently warned that militant youths if allowed to continue could turn the country into fiefdoms of warlords like Somalia.

Other sources within the Embassy were not so economical with the facts and outright indicated that the US would now intimidate the two until they "toed the line". The Americans, we heard, will now hit the two where it hurts; the pocket. To start with, the Americans are now digging into the bank accounts of the two with a view of establishing where and how much is deposited. Once they get the information, they will then embark on trying to have the accounts frozen until the two agree on modalities of sharing power and pulling Kenya out of the precipice it now finds

Should Raila and Kibaki refuse to play ball, we learnt, they would also be put under "country arrest" and denied visas to travel abroad especially to US and Europe where they are believed yo have stashed collosal amounts of money. The idea, it is said, is to stop the two from fleeing the country to safety abroad should an all out inter-tribal war break out. The fears that the two might plunge the country into a civil war and then leave people to burn on their own, sources say, were heightened by allegations that Raila had on the day the violence started on 30th of
December chattered a jet to hurriedly sneak out his family to Tanzania enroute to safety overseas.

He is said to have been aware it is claimed that a secret army that had been armed with bows and arrows in Rift Valley and drilled into attacking and killing members of one community would make the country ungovernable once results favouring Kibaki were announced. A close associate of Odinga and member of the Pentagon is said to be widely referred to as a "warlord" under whom battalions of warriors are ready for war.

Already, a number of bank accounts mainly Kibaki's have been unearthed in Europe and Asia. Although they knew Kibaki is a wealthy man in his own right, the sleuths were reportedly surprised at huge accounts overflowing with deposits.

Those who have worked closely with President Kibaki on business matters however say that anyone digging into Kibaki's accounts would not get far and would if lucky get to just within a quarter of his true worth because the president is a man who operates from behind the walls thus making it almost impossible to trace his finances. Financial experts say it is hard to estimate Kibaki's actual net worth because he operates through a series of investment companies.

Besides operating under the cover of investing companies, Kibaki also prefers having his investments in trust through holding companies making it almost impossible for anyone trying to know what he owns and where it is situated. Unlike other prominent businessmen, Kibaki's business empire remains unknown and the only fairly known Kibaki family company is perhaps Lucia and Company Ltd. The company used to operate from Finance House where Kibaki had a private office before he became president in 2003.

Because of what close business associates described as security risk, the company then moved its offices to a more prestigious Bishop's Gardens building in the Kilimani suburbs. It is from this office where members of Kibaki's immediate family, daughter Judy Kibaki, sons Jimmy, Tony, David and Kagai regularly operate from.

Apart from Lucia and Company Ltd the Kibaki family is also said to have a direct substantial interest in the prestigious and successful clothe store Deacons, interests in Silver Springs Hotel in the outskirts of Nairobi and Green Hills Hotel in Nyeri. It is also said that at one time, he was in partnership with Njenga Karume in tourism business via the now collapsed United Touring Company (UTC) which in the 1980s was one of the largest and most successful tour operators in the country. Through UTC the two had an interest in Nyali Beach Hotel in Mombasa.

Despite keeping details of his private companies under lock and key, investigations reveal that Kibaki and family own shares in various blue chip companies trading at the Nairobi Stock Exchange. It is estimated that the Kibaki family controls an investment empire worth as much as Shs 2 billion.

Apart from investing at the Nairobi Stock Exchange, it is said that the family has also invested heavily in farming, owning huge farms in several parts of the country. Among these include one in Nakuru, a ranch in Naro Moru area near Nanyuki, farming interests via a holding company in Mweiga and in his rural home in Othaya.

Apart from having family business, records show that during the early 80s, Kibaki teamed up with the likes of former president Daniel Arap Moi, former powerful Attorney General Charles Njonjo and formed and investment company which they named Heri Limited.

It is said that the company invested heavily in property with its flagship properties such as Norfolk Towers, College House and Kolobot Gardens. The company also invested heavily in quoted securities at the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) and was for many years among the top 20 shareholders of ICDC Investments (now Centum Investments), Nation Media Group, Jacaranda Hotel, Standard Chartered Bank, Lonrho Motors East Africa, Housing Finance Company and the Barclays Bank, Clarkson and Southern Ltd and Taisho Monarch Insurance Company.

It is also said that Kibaki also has an interest in International House Limited, the company associated with businessman Chris Kirubi and the one that owns the prestigious International House.

It is said that even when Kibaki fell out with Moi and Njonjo their business links remained intact and sustained by the fact that they operated mainly through investing companies. This arrangement meant that the did not have to meet in order to transact business since the firms were run by hired professionals and all that the shareholders did was to wait for their dividend cheques.

Another company associated with Kibaki is African Liaison & Consultants Services Limited (ALCS). According to financial analysts, today African Liaison is among the major shareholders in such public quoted companies as CFC Bank, Barclays Bank of Kenya, CMC Holdings as well as Heritage Insurance Company.

For political survival Kibaki is said to have not only relied on family business to finance his campaigns, he has since his first attempt on the presidency in 1992 elections relied on a network of wealthy businessmen and professionals. Some of the big names include Joe Barage Wanjui, the Chancellor of the University of Nairobi. He is fabulously wealthy and owns a huge stake - together with business magnate Chris Kirubi - in UAP Provincial Insurance, one of the largest Insurance companies in the region.

Another big name is that of Nathaniel Mbugua Kang'ethe who runs the MCL Saatchi and Saatchi. He also runs Kang'ethe and Associates and IA Consulting Kenya Ltd. Also in the list of those who have been giving Kibaki financial support is Jeremiah Kiereini who ahs a considerable stake in Unga Group Ltd, CMC Holdings Group of Companies and CFC Bank Ltd. Others are cabinet minister John Njoroge Michuki who is also the owner of the exclusive Windsor Golf and Country Club. Eddy Njoroge the Managing Director of KenGen, Peter Tiras Kanyago, the head of the multi-million giant freight-forwarding firm, Express Kenya Ltd, and East Africa Elevator Company (OTIS). He is also the chairman of Toyota Kenya Foundation. Others are former Defence Minister Njenga Karume who owns the country's largest beer distribution firm.

As for Raila, he is said to be a fabulously wealthy man among the who is who in the country when it comes to worldly possessions despite his past mythical link to communism. Having been a victim of political prosecution, it is said, Raila learnt early never to put his eggs in one basket. In fact, it is believed that Raila has more money abroad than at home. The man who last year bought a Hummer vehicle that is more known as a toy of the children of the rich abroad is reputed to have a taste for the good life and this he has worked to ensure he achieves by
working harder to make that extra billion as he works hard to win that extra vote.

Although most of his money comes from the family Spectre Company that specializes on manufacturing gas cylinders, Raila has since 2002 really hit the billionaires' arena with his entry into big time oil trade. It started with his appointment by Moi to the ministry of energy where he made valuable contacts with oil men from Libya who have now moved into the Kenyan market and threatened to swamp all other players in the industry.

But back to the political crisis that appears hell bent on denying the some of Jaramogi political power which dogged his father throughout his life-time, Odinga believes he won the elections but was cheated through rigging in 47 constituencies. This point is said to have been raised in a heated exchange between PNU and ODM when they last week failed to agree on the broad formula for power sharing at the Koffi Annan-led mediation talks held in the secluded Tsavo national park.

A source at the talks revealed that of the 47 constituencies in dispute by ODM which it had wanted re-tallied, they could be divided into two groups. The first group of 27 contains the cases where ODM refuted the results announced by the returning officer as the constituency level but concurred that these are the same results announced at the national tallying center at KICC.

The second group of 20 constituencies contain the cases where ODM alleged that what was announced ta the constituency level tallying center by the returning officer was not consistent with what was announced at the national tallying center at KICC.

At the Annan talks, according to our source, the PNU countered that. ODM's use of provisional results, was unrealistic as it ignored other parties, other agents returns and past election trends. During the heated exchange PNU accused ODM of misleading the country by using provisional results announced prior to the results from all polling stations within the constituencies.

Forms 16 from the constituencies support the fact that results announced at the constituencies actually tallied with those announced at the national tallying centre, it was pointed out, buy ODM would hear none of it.

Back to America's plan to target the fortunes of Kenya's political leaders, Raila's controversial acquisition of the Kisumu Molasses Plant which came as part of a political deal he struck with Moi has also cemented his reputation as a first among equals in the hallowed corridors of the high and mighty. Apart form making a buck through business, Raila is also known to be an excellent fundraiser who hardly ever uses his own money as there are always thousands lining to do it for him with their own money.

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