Kenya's anti-graft chief, accused of conflict of interest, quits

NAIROBI (Reuters) - The chairman of Kenya’s anti-graft body said on Wednesday he had quit after lawmakers recommended removing him from office over an alleged conflict of interest between his family business and another state-run agency.

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Kenyan media reported parliament’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee wanted lawmakers to ask President Uhuru Kenyatta to set up a tribunal to force out Philip Kinisu.

The committee had accused Kinisu of a conflict of interest in his family company’s dealings with state-run National Youth Service, which the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) that he leads was investigating over lost money.

Kinisu denied any wrongdoing by him or the company.

“At the same time, I am mindful that significant resources and attention are being expended by the state and public on deliberating these matters rather than to the fight against corruption,” he said in a statement announcing his resignation.

Kenya has a history of corruption scandals that have failed to result in high-profile convictions, angering the public who say it demonstrates top officials can act with impunity and encourages graft by ordinary employees.

Faced with a growing public outcry last year, Kenyatta promised to root corruption out of the government. Five ministers stepped aside in 2015 after they faced investigations and then lost their jobs in a reshuffle. Two former ministers face trial proceedings.

Kinisu took up his position in January.

The EACC is an independent state-funded institution, whose head is nominated by the president and vetted by parliament.

Kinisu’s predecessor, Mumo Matemu - who also quit - had faced allegations of incompetence that he denied, but said he was resigning for the sake of the campaign against corruption.

Writing by George Obulutsa; editing by Elias Biryabarema