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US attorney general Loretta Lynch prepares to testify before Congress.
EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo
The right woman for the job.
SOMETHING MISSING

Kenyans are calling on the US attorney general to help unravel a billion-dollar Eurobond scandal

By Lily Kuo

Kenyans are calling on US attorney general Loretta Lynch to help solve the mystery of almost $1 billion that is allegedly missing from the country’s debut on the international bond market.

A petition on the White House’s website calls on Lynch to “help Kenyans recover their looted Eurobond proceeds.” A petition needs 100,000 signatures within 30 days to require a response from the president’s office.

Earlier this month, Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga accused US financial institutions JP Morgan Chase and the Federal Reserve of New York of helping Kenyan officials steal $999 million in funds raised from the country’s 2013 Eurobond issue. (Both institutions were enlisted to help with the transaction.)

Odinga claims that the money, intended to pay down government debt and fund much-needed infrastructure projects, was never transferred from the US to the Kenyan government’s public funds account. Kenya’s finance ministry claims it has accounted for all of the funds. Officials have conceded that they can’t specify which projects the Eurobond proceeds funded because the money was dispersed among ministries to use as they needed.

For some, calling on the White House is also a way to de-politicize a scandal that has become a tit-for-tat between the ruling party under president Uhuru Kenyatta and the opposition, under Odinga.

The petition is still several thousand short of requiring a response from the White House. Still, the hashtag #KenyanstoLorettaLynch has begun trending on social media, with users tweeting at the attorney general. It may seem odd that the US’s top law enforcement official is being approached, but Lynch is admired in Kenya for her quick career accession to become the first female African-American attorney general and her recent indictment of 14 senior FIFA officials. Local media report that Lynch is expected to visit Kenya this week. (The US Department of Justice was not immediately available to confirm the visit.)

The hashtag is also being used for general complaints about rampant corruption in the country. Kenya ranks 145th out of 174 countries on Transparency International’s global corruption perceptions index.