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From grass to grace and back to grass, the tale of top Kenyan female athletes

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Lucy Kabuu was on top of the world after making a winning return to athletics by leading Kenyan compatriots to a clean sweep at the Milano Marathon in Italy last April.

In Kabuu’s race were defending champions Sheila Chepkoech and Vivian Kiplagat. That joy did not last.

The marathoner has since been suspended after testing positive for a banned performance enhancing substance. She is also fighting in court to retain the proceeds of the achievement.

Kabuu blames her husband Jeremiah Maina from whom she has separated. The two are fighting in an Eldoret court over the sharing of multimillion-shilling family property.

Although the properties are registered jointly, Kabuu says she single-handedly acquired them.

Maina wants the court to give orders for a 50-50 sharing plan because the assets were acquired while they were married.

According to Kabuu, they were not married but only cohabited. The relationship produced a daughter.

Maina told the court he financially contributed to the acquisition of their assets in several towns in the country. But Kabuu said she only allowed Maina to oversee the development of the properties.

“Maina and I purchased some of the property in both our names when I was in the country but the rest was registered in his name due to my absence,” Kabuu said in affidavits.

“He took advantage of my absence to enrich himself by withdrawing large sums of money and transferring it to himself under the guise of purchasing and developing the properties.”

Read: Riches to rags: How ‘Wash Wash’ scam cons the elite in Eldoret

The case is one of tens in Eldoret courts in which former athletes are battling to retain their properties.

Only a few are public because many female athletes prefer to suffer quietly. They are ashamed of being exposed for having dated “woman eaters.”

Most of the former athletes rose to international fame and earned much money after winning races.

But they are living in regret after losing much of their earnings, often to men who befriended them to share their fortune.

Veteran athlete Moses Tanui is among those leading sensitisation campaigns to keep upcoming athletes away from preying men.

Tanui said victims have tales of bitterness after falling in love and trusting “gold diggers” with their wealth.

Tens of female athletes have ended up losing land, vehicles, houses and other assets to estranged husbands.

The majority are quietly fighting in courts in Eldoret, Kitale, Iten, Nakuru and other areas in a bid to recover their property.

Tanui said the men are also to blame for banned athletes because they encouraged them to engage in doping. “The more the athletes win, the sweeter for the gold diggers,”Tanui said.

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A female athlete who feared coming out in public to speak about her tribulations, told the Star that she was fleeced and left poor by a gold digger.

“I fell in love with a man whom I met while in training and went ahead to trust him so much that I even sent him to buy land for me in Kapsabet. I later discovered that he conned me and registered the property in his name,” she said.

Read also: Doping claims threaten pay, crash legacies in Kenya’s athletics heartlands

A similar case was reported in Kitale, where another athlete asked her boyfriend to buy her two parcels of land. “The plots were going for Sh1 million each but the man asked for more than Sh4 million,” the former athlete said. She sought anonymity.

A source familiar with the transaction said the boyfriend convinced her that the figure was meant to shield her from paying hefty tax.

“This is one of the many cases where female athletes have been fleeced by men they were in love with,” the source said.

The Star has established that at least 16 top female runners have lost money and assets worth millions of shillings to gold diggers.

An Eldoret-based athlete who befriended a lawyer at the peak of her carrier five years ago said she gave the man Sh26 million to buy some property in town.

When she demanded to see purchase documents, the man refused saying they were safe somewhere.

“I did a follow-up and discovered that all the property was registered in his name,” the athlete said.

Tanui said they want to help young athletes to invest wisely.

“Many of our athletes easily lose whatever money or assets they make. They require proper guidance and training so that they are not easily misled,” Tanui said.

Janet Chebet, who works at a training camp for athletes near Eldoret, says she has seen more than 20 female athletes stalked by gold diggers who pretend to be lovers.

“Such men pretend to be so good, escorting the female athletes during training and being around always to build confidence and trust. But one can clearly sense they are mere gold diggers,” Chebet said.

She said the men are cunning and often develop relationships that end up in marriage or cohabitation.

They ensure the athletes rely on them for virtually everything including advice. “Many of the athletes rise to fame directly from the villages without proper exposure and because of illiteracy or ignorance, they are easily misled,” Chebet said.

More: Here is what makes Kenyan runners great

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Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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