25 October 2013

Kenya: UK Supplier of Kenya's 2013 Ballot Papers Charged With Graft - Report

Nairobi — A British company that was awarded a single-sourced tender to print ballot papers for Kenya's controversial 2013 election has been taken to court for corruption, Business Daily reported on Friday.

Smith and Ouzman allegedly spent £413,552 ($700,000) to win tenders in Kenya, Mauritania, Ghana and Somaliland between November 2006 and December 2010.

The UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has charged four men with paying bribes.

Kenya's electoral commission justified single-sourcing the 3 billion Kenya shilling ($35 million) contract with Smith and Ouzman, saying there was "limited time" for open tendering, the paper reported.

The contract was signed in November 2012.

Another British company unsuccessfully filed a petition in Kenya's High Court last year seeking to stop the deal, citing breach of procurement law.

The UK's SFO has been watching business contracts in Kenya after the controversial Anglo Leasing scandal - the biggest of President Mwai Kibaki's reign - which involved British companies. It was forced to abandon investigations into Anglo Leasing after the Kenya government refused to cooperate, the paper said.

It is the not first time the electoral commission has faced allegations of corrupt tendering.

In April, Kenya's anti-corruption commission opened a probe into the electoral commission's irregular procurement of poll equipment, which broke down during the vote, leading to fears of rigging.

There were suspicions that the preferred bidder, South African firm Face Technologies, was favoured because of corruption or because of its political connections. - Thomson Reuters Foundation

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