Archbishop Okoth: Corruption allegations are “inaccurate, unreliable and misleading”

KISUMU, (28th May 2015): — The following statement can be attributed to Archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth of the Archdiocese of Kisumu

As you are aware, some time back, KTN featured a story accusing my office of swindling millions of Kenya shillings.

Several months passed between the time confidential documents were handed over to KTN and the time they aired the story. I too have taken time to reflect, pray and prepare to react to the allegations.

Mr. Nelson Sweta, Most Rev. Zacchaeus Okoth, Brother Patrick Gor and Ms Maureen Aluoch

I know some of you thought I didn’t react immediately because I had something to hide. That’s not the case. Well, it is time to set the record straight.

From our investigations, it appears that confidential documents in parcels addressed to the Apostolic Nuncio’s office in Nairobi to be forwarded to Rome were illegally intercepted, photocopied and handed over to KTN journalists.

Before reacting to the allegations of corruption, I’d like to point out that what KTN reporters did was a violation of the diplomatic law.

According to the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, official diplomatic communication is inviolable. Being an Ambassador, the Apostolic Nuncio’s papers and correspondence are inviolable, and whoever intercepts and publicizes the content such correspondence violates the principles of the  Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Such a person may lawfully be prosecuted and punished.

Furthermore, interception and disclosure of private communication without being authorised by a judge is an offence.

I categorically reject the KTN’s allegations as inaccurate, unreliable and misleading. The office of the Archbishop is not guilty of any wrongdoing.

I want to state clearly that I’ve never and will never swindle the money belonging to my Archdiocese.

I’d like to assure you that none of the funds received by the Archdiocese of Kisumu in 2014 for projects have been misappropriated.

Some of the documents KTN claims to have are not the ones we sent to our donors. The KTN reporters even used a misleading picture.

Before claiming that funds for new and ongoing projects have been swindled, the least KTN should have done was to check and verify if the said funds had been received, when they were received, and whether or not they were missing from the account where they were supposed to be.

You journalists have an important function of exposing wrongdoing and corruption. Your profession however, requires that you secure proof of wrongdoing before making serious allegations such as the ones in question.

Next time you need information from the Archbishop’s office, please use the right channels and procedures.

Even though this issue has caused me much suffering and pain, I forgive whoever did it and will continue to pray for him. For the good of the Catholic Church, I feel the suspect’s name should not be disclosed to the public. I do not hold any grudge against the person who can rest assured of my fatherly and spiritual support.

Since this issue came up the Archdiocese of Kisumu has been put on trial. I’d like to sincerely thank the clergy and faithful of our Archdiocese and people of good will in different parts of the world who have been fasting and praying for us. We have also received so many messages of solidarity and encouragement.

I request you to continue praying for the person who did this, for the faithful of our Archdiocese and for me.

Thank you.

Most Rev. Zacchaeus Okoth,
Archbishop of Kisumu