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City link cash scandal brings down African finance chief.

Byline: BY DEBORAH JAMES Daily Post Staff

KENYA'S finance minister has resigned, alleging he was wrongly linked to a multi-million dollar corruption scandal that at one stage brought African detectives to Merseyside.

David Mwiraria, 67, is the first official to step down over revelations about the "Anglo Leasing" scam in which contracts went to "phantom firms", including one registered in Liverpool.

The scandal centres around money the Kenyan government paid for services supposedly including forgery-proof passports, navy ships, and forensic laboratories.

In October 2004 two officers from Kenya arrived in the Liverpool to interview West Derby businessman Colin Flynn, in relation to an alleged pounds 21m financial scandal.

Their inquiries related to how Anglo Leasing and Finance, registered to Alpha House in Upper Parliament Street in Toxteth, won an pounds 21m contract from the Kenyan government to provide terrorism-proof passport-making equipment - when nobody outside senior Government circles knew the work was being offered.

Father-of-three Mr Flynn is an accountant for property management company Saaga Associates, which is based at the same Liverpool address. He has always insisted he was not involved in any wrongdoing.

The probe became public just months after Anglo Leasing and Finance pulled out of a separate pounds 29m deal to build three forensic laboratories after a wrangle with Kenyan authorities, following a decision by a committee of MPs to freeze future payments to the east African country.

The firm returned almost pounds 1.5m, which had already been paid to build the laboratories in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.

Four high-ranking officials were suspended as a result of that inquiry, which Kenyan parliament records showed were signed by Colin Flynn.

The scandal has rocked President Mwai Kibaki's three-year-old government in Kenya, and infuriated western donors.

Yesterday Mr Mwiraria said: "In order that my name be cleared and to protect the integrity of the president, the government and our country of Kenya, I hereby voluntarily step aside."

Mwiraria was one of four senior figures accused last week by Kenya's former anti-corruption chief John Githongo, who linked them and various junior officials to tenders worth around $200m.

Mwiraria, credited with overseeing a turnaround in the economy, was accused of knowing about some of the contracts and participating in a cover-up.

He and the three other senior politicians are wanted for questioning by anti-corruption authorities. All have proclaimed their innocence, but the two serving ministers will now be under pressure to also resign.

A spokeswoman for Merseyside police confirmed Anglo Leasing was still officially under investigation, but there had been no activity on the case for some time.

Mr Flynn's solicitor Mark Forman of Liverpool firm Powell Forman Kelly said his client believed he had done nothing wrong. In a statement, Mr Flynn said: "The company was approached for information by the Merseyside police who were assisting the Kenyan authorities.

"The company answered the enquiries satisfactorily and have had no contact since 2004. So far as the company is concerned it has done nothing wrong."

To protect the integrity of Kenya, I step aside

deborahjames@dailypost.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

Colin Flynn at the door of his home
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 2, 2006
Words:519
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