Known for his flamboyant lifestyle, Kenyan politician Mike Sonko and his family have been banned from travelling to the U.S. by the state department over allegations of corruption while in office.
The designation means they have also been banned from doing any business with the U.S.
The family members include his wife Primrose Mbuvi, daughters Salma and Saumu and an unnamed minor son.
The announcement was made on Tuesday by Counselor for Public Affairs Eric Watnik at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.
While Sonko was the governor of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, before he was impeached in December 2020, he “solicited bribes and kickbacks in exchange for awarding government contracts to his associates”, the U.S. said.
Sonko’s corrupt acts is said to have undermined the rule of law, Kenyan’s public, government processes and public officials.
“His (Sonko’s) corruption has been widely reported in local and international press. With this designation the department reaffirms the need for accountability, transparency and respect for rule of law in Kenya’s democratic institutions, government processes and the actions of the public officials,” said Watnik.
He continued: “The United States will continue to use all tools available to combat corruption and promote respect for human rights globally.” He issued the communication on behalf of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The Counselor disclosed that the department is in possession of credible information that Sonko received bribes in kickbacks from his associates in exchange for awarding of multimillion-shilling tenders.
“The department has credible information that the former governor was involved in significant corruption when serving as governor of Nairobi. We determined that he received bribes in kickbacks in exchange for irregular awarding of contracts to his associates for personal gains,” stated Watnik.
Sonko on Tuesday denied the allegations and said he was being targeted wrongly.
He is currently facing three different cases at the anti-corruption magistrate court in Milimani. They involve Sh381 million lost from the county government’s account through money laundering, bribes, conflict of interest and acquisition of proceeds of crime.
He is also fighting accusations of abuse of office, making irregular payments, improperly conferring a benefit to himself and conspiring to commit an offence of corruption.
Sonko became the second Kenyan to be publicly banned from travelling to the U.S. during President Uhuru Kenyatta’s era over corruption allegations.