The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Rebecca Nabutola, and the former Kenya Tourist Board chief executive, Dr. Achieng Ong’gong’a, were charged in court yesterday over their involvement in a major scandal involving the two. During a period of no formal board of directors being in place, the Kenyan Ministry of Tourism having delayed the appointments, an alleged fraud took place involving not only them but also a former board member, Duncan Muriuki. Expenditure worth over 9 million Kenya shillings (US$116,279) was engineered and the trio is now paying the price by standing in the dock answering fraud charges.
The matter came to light first through public murmurs and when eventually a new board was appointed, led by Jake Grieves-Cook, it took immediate action, started an investigation, eventually suspended the CEO and then – and here the stories differ – sacked him while Dr. Achieng claims he actually resigned, either way he was gone though. The private sector participant in the saga had some time ago threatened media houses and journalists with legal cases, when the matter and his involvement were reported, but the fact of the prosecution now going ahead put this issue firmly to rest.
It appears that all three were granted bail by the magistrate until the 22nd July, when the formal trial is set to begin. This story soiled the reputation of senior officials involved in the tourism sector without however doing lasting harm to Kenya’s efforts to promote the country.