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Kenya’s former ambassador to Russia arrested over alleged extortion


Police in Nairobi are holding a high ranking ambassador over allegations of attempting to extort an unknown amount of money from Teachers Service Commission (TSC) chief executive Nancy Macharia.

Ambassador Hillary Ngondi Kyengo, who until September this year was the Kenya’s envoy to Russia, was arrested on Tuesday evening alongside two other suspects James Ndirangu Kagecha and David Mwaniki Maluki.

Mr Kyengo was recalled back to Nairobi upon the expiry of his Moscow tour of duty and is awaiting another diplomatic posting.

He is alleged to have impersonated to Ms Macharia as a detective from the office of Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti, where he demanded money as a bribe to kill off some purported investigations at TSC.

Police have not divulged more information on where the arrests were made and how much the three suspects had asked for.

SCANDAL

However, sources told the Nation that the three walked into Ms Macharia’s office and told her that they had a damning dossier of a scandal involving corruption in teacher grading and promotions.

They allegedly offered to drop the “investigations” if the commission CEO agreed to cooperate by giving them money, prompting Ms Macharia to alert the DCI detectives.

The TSC boss is the complainant in the matter where the suspects were unknowingly filmed demanding bribes in exchange of a promise to “kill the case”.

DCI said the three suspects will be arraigned in court soon to face charges of obtaining money by false pretense.

According to Kenya’s embassy to the Russian Federation, Ambassador Kyengo’s three year tour of duty in Moscow, where he served since January 2016, ended in September and he was recalled to Ministry of Foreign Affairs headquarters.

DIPLOMATIC POSTINGS

Moscow is considered one of the high profile diplomatic postings in the league of Washington, London, Beijing, Berlin, and it is served by the country’s best and most experienced diplomats.

Ambassador Kyengo was also the acting Chargé D’Affaires in the neighboring Ukraine where he handled all the functions of accreditation because Kenya does not have its Embassy in Ukraine.

Mr Kyengo was instrumental in establishing relations with Ukraine, with his efforts culminating in the first ever high-level Ukraine–Kenya bilateral and political consultations held in Kiev, on December 1, 2016.

He also led efforts to market Kenyan tea in Russia in a campaign to that sought to create and raise awareness among Russians about the quality of Kenya’s tea.

Russia is the leading buyer of tea in the world while Kenya is number one exporter of black tea.

SENIOR POSITIONS

The tea marketing campaign dubbed “Think Tea Make It Kenya” coincided with this year’s Fifa World Cup tournament which was held in Russia.

Prior to the Moscow posting, Ambassador Kyengo served in various senior positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Trade and also in Missions abroad including stints as Deputy Head of Mission in Kenya High Commissions to Botswana, Malaysia and Somalia.

Mr Kyengo served in several desks at the ministry headquarters, among them Americas & Australia, Asia, Horn of Africa, Protocol and the Great Lakes Region.

The 51-year-old envoy began his diplomatic career in the early 1990s where he served for several years as the Personal Assistant to the then Foreign Affairs minister Kalonzo Musyoka.