Nairobi’s Gold-Loving Governor Is Arrested on Corruption Charges

Nairobi’s Gold-Loving Governor Is Arrested on Corruption Charges

NAIROBI, Kenya — The police in Kenya arrested the flamboyant governor of Nairobi on Friday on charges of abusing his office and misappropriating millions of dollars in government funds, among other charges.

The arrest of Gov. Mike Mbuvi Sonko, who is known for his chunky gold jewelry and impromptu raps, was ordered by the director of public prosecutions, Noordin Haji, who accused Mr. Sonko of “deploying intimidation tactics and using goons to threaten law enforcement officials” investigating the case, according to The Associated Press.

Mr. Haji said at a news conference that “a comprehensive investigation by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission” had found sufficient evidence to prosecute Mr. Sonko on charges including money laundering and unlawful acquisition of public property.

The commission confirmed on Twitter that Mr. Sonko had been detained while trying to escape arrest at a roadblock in Voi, about 200 miles southeast of Nairobi, the capital. The commission said the governor had been transferred back to Nairobi.

Mr. Sonko, elected in 2017, was serving his first term as governor. He previously served as member of Parliament for the Madaraka constituency in Nairobi starting in 2010, and was elected as a senator of Nairobi County in 2013.

Residents and international investors have long complained of corruption in Kenya, East Africa’s business hub and richest economy. And Mr. Sonko has invited scrutiny for his flamboyant lifestyle and flashy fashion.

A controversial figure, Mr. Sonko has taken to publicly sneering at his perceived detractors and critics. As a lawmaker, he was thrown out of Parliament after he arrived wearing ear studs and sunglasses, saying he represented the younger generation who had elected him.

He was recently photographed using a gold-plated iPad and matching iPhone, and has appeared in rap videos gyrating in public offices wearing gold-colored sneakers while insulting political opponents, according to The A.P.

The governor has also shared photos online of his dining room, featuring a gold-plated lion statue and a gold-tinted dining table and chairs.

On Thursday, he received an award sponsored by the Kenya Red Cross and United Nations Volunteers for encouraging volunteering.

He had established the Sonko Rescue Team, a group of youngsters who respond to emergencies, sweep streets and take clean water to poor areas.

Thirteen other people were also listed as suspects in the corruption case announced on Friday, and were asked to present themselves to the nearest police station.

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