By Humphrey Malalo
NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenyan authorities were hoping this week’s unprecedented arrest of the finance minister and several other top officials on corruption charges would serve as a stern warning to potential grifters.
But one enterprising Kenyan policeman saw the opportunity to make some extra cash, the police directorate of criminal investigations said on Thursday, an embarrassing vignette revealing the depths of Kenya’s corruption problem.
Finance Minister Henry Rotich is the highest-profile among 26 people charged with corruption-related offences this week over a two planned dam projects. They all pleaded not guilty on Tuesday and have been released on bail.
The day after the minister was charged, the policeman and an unidentified partner walked into the Treasury and extorted money from an employee there by pretending he was also under investigation.
The employee paid him 200,000 Kenya shillings ($2,000), the directorate said on its Twitter feed.
He also detained a businessman, accusing him of forgery, and sought to extort 100,000 shillings from a businessman, the statement said on Thursday.
“It was when they were waiting for money that Corporal Rioba was arrested,” the criminal investigations unit said on its Twitter feed. The unit did not provide his full name and did not respond to requests for further information.
Police are notoriously corrupt in Kenya, which loses about a third of its budget to graft, according to one 2016 estimate.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has promised to crack down on graft and a slew of officials face charges, but courts are slow, evidence often disappears and there have been no senior officials jailed.
(Writing by Omar Mohammed; Editing by Katharine Houreld, William Maclean)