The Corruption Report

The second strand to Troon’s ‘Molasses Theory’ was that at  the time of his murder,  Dr. Ouko was writing a ‘corruption report’ to go to President Moi exposing the Molasses Project fraud scandal and that it could have been in an attempt to stop this exposure, according to Troon, that Dr Ouko was murdered.

Troon stated in his ‘Final Report’ that, ‘The evidence put forward by Briner-Mattern and Airaghi suggests quite clearly a motive to murder Dr Ouko, who according to them was about to prepare a report to be handed to the President outlining the allegations of corruption against Kenyan Ministers and officials.’ [TFR para 180]

Despite Troon’s assertion, the source for the ‘Corruption Report’ theory was only and entirely Marianne Briner-Mattern. In his witness statement, Domenico Airaghi’s testimony was, ‘The last time I spoke to Dr Ouko was either in late 1989 or early 1990. He never discussed with me any particular incident indicating any immediate danger to himself. I have not personally sent or received any letters from Dr Ouko in the last year’. [14 Airaghi’s statement, 9 May 1990].

This was not the only mistake Troon was to make regarding the ‘corruption report’ allegations of Briner-Mattern.

According to Troon, Briner-Mattern made ‘very serious allegations against certain Kenyan officials of corruption in respect of the Molasses Project… She states that in March 1989 she wrote personally to President Moi outling her allegation and grievances.’

In Briner-Mattern’s witness statement however, she stated that, ‘In March 1989, immediately after my Director’s expulsion, I decided to write a confidential letter to His Excellency the President of Kenya outlining the expulsion of My Director and the various projects we had been involved in and generally expressing the situation to him. I still wanted to complete the projects in a business like manner and asked for his support and fair judgement’. She did not mention ‘allegations’.

The other problem with Troon’s acceptance of this part of Briner-Mattern’s allegations is that there is no evidence that such a letter was either sent by her in March 1989, or received by President Moi.

The basis for Briner-Mattern’s ‘evidence’ for the corruption report theory was that she wrote and spoke to Dr Ouko shortly before his death. The communications allegedly took the form of two letters from Briner-Mattern and two telephone calls she claimed to have received from Dr Ouko. These were alleged to have taken place between 29th January and the 10th February, 1990.

According to Troon, during the course of those communications Dr Ouko indicated to Briner-Mattern that he was about to write a report to President Moi, ‘outlining allegations of corruption against Kenyan Ministers and officials.’ [TFR para 180]

In his ‘Final Report’ Troon reported that, ‘She [Briner-Mattern] states that on 29th January 1990 she wrote and posted a letter to Dr Ouko at his PO Box No 48955 Nairobi outlining the allegations and urging Dr Ouko to assist, and tell the truth. She produces a copy of this letter which according to her, was sent by Air Mail’. [TFR paras 167-172]

In paragraph 168 Troon continued:

‘Mrs Briner-Mattern maintains that on Monday 5th February 1990 at around lunch time she received a telephone call from Dr Ouko. She says the call was timed around lunch time (Swiss time) and believes he was making it from his own office. According to Briner-Mattern Dr Ouko told her that he had received her letter and requested her to send copies of additional correspondence in relation to her allegations to his Kisumu box number. This she says she did and posted it on the same day. There is no independent evidence that Dr Ouko received this correspondence. But the mail was collected on Thursday 8th and Saturday 10th February from the Kisumu box number.’

And in paragraph 169:

She alleges that on Saturday 10th February 1990 during the afternoon she received another telephone call from Ouko allegedly being made from his Koru address. Dr Ouko according to her, said that he had received the letter and was preparing a report in relation to her allegations for the President, to be handed to the latter before Dr Ouko’s visit to Gambia.’

At paragraph 171:

‘Papers in relation to the BAK allegations which may have been in the possession of Dr Ouko have not been found by the British investigators.’

Troon accepted in paragraph 167 of his ‘Final Report’ that ‘I have found no independent evidence that Dr Ouko actually received the letter [of the 29th January]; in paragraph 168 that ‘There is no independent evidence that Dr Ouko received this letter [5th February]; that there was no evidence to ‘corroborate these phone calls’ [from Ouko to Briner-Mattern]; and at paragraph 172 that ‘the only supportive evidence is circumstantial’. But he concluded, ‘I can only rely on what she says’.

Yet from this, Troon concluded in paragraph 180 of his report that the motive for Dr Ouko’s murder could have been the report to the President outlining allegations of corruption by Kenyan Ministers and official, and at the Judicial Inquiry in 1991 he agreed with lawyer Oraro’s statement that, ‘the main reason why he [Ouko] disappeared according to those findings, your findings, the main motive was to get hold of those documents’ [the BAK letters].

From this was born the theory of the ‘corruption report’ and it is in his assessment of this section of the Briner-Mattern allegations that Troon made his most significant error, for he either did not read her alleged letters, or if he did, he did not understand their implication.

Troon’s error was that the two letters supposedly sent by Briner-Mattern, particularly the first letter allegedly sent to Dr Ouko on 29th January 1990, do not concentrate on bribes asked for by Kenyan Ministers and officials but rather all but threaten Dr Ouko about the misuse of 50 workers at the Molasses Plant used for unlawful canvassing for Ouko in the lection of 1988.

In the letter of 29th January, Briner-Mattern informs Dr Ouko that she has hired a leading Kenyan law firm, was seeking a meeting with President Moi, and that an election fraud had been committed by using workers tidying up the Molasses Plant to campaign on behalf of Dr Ouko. She suggests that President Moi will be asking Dr Ouko for an explanation, that he should prepare his defence and admit he had made a mistake. [Transcript, Briner Mattern letter to Dr Ouko, 29th January 1990]

Briner-Mattern’s threat was made to Dr. Ouko.

On page two at paragraph two of the letter allegedly sent by Briner-Mattern on the 29th January,  she states, ‘… we believe that the reason for your non-involvement in our defence could be found when checking on the employment of the 50 workers, since we found out that they had been used also to “campaign” for you during the election and that part of the money was also used to pay the youth wingers. You remember that your cousin Ouko Reru had the signature in the Commercial Bank of Kenya account and that at the end of the originally agreed period had asked us for an additional amount that we gave.”

She continues in the next paragraph, “Since it is possible that H.E. the President will approach you after it seems he finally received the letter sent to him by me originally in March 1988, I herewith enclose a copy for your knowledge and enabling you to prepare your defence…”

The express reference to letters to the President, the information on the fifty workers and the suggestion that Dr Ouko “get his defence in order” is without doubt a threat.

In her witness statement to Troon, Briner-Mattern said:

During my conversation with Dr Ouko he said he was going to Kisumu and he asked me to send him a list of the workers as the allegations against us concerned the so called illegal employing of the workers. He said he had given the complete Molasses file to Mr Otieno and that I should send him copies of the workers’ details and other correspondence including a letter to Saitoti dated 24.02.88. He said he was going to Kisumu and talk to the people involved in the employment and get their support because he was going to make a report to the President’.

Based on Briner-Mattern’s testimony, if Dr Ouko was writing a corruption report to go to the President just before he was murdered he was doing so to defend allegations of corruption made against him, not Saitoti, Otieno, Biwott or other ‘officials’.

The basis for the ‘Corruption Report’ theory was therefore a misunderstanding by Troon of the uncorroborated testimony of Marianne Briner-Mattern, and based on documents that have never been found.

Troon speculated that documents relating to the ‘Corruption report’ had been taken from Dr Ouko’s but there is no evidence to support this.

That there were documents at Ouko’s Koru farm is not in doubt. That they disappeared is not in doubt. But they could have contained Ministry of Foreign Affairs papers; they could have contained minutes of a meeting; they could have been Dr.Ouko’s Phd thesis that he was apparently working on at the time; or they could have been private correspondence. And they could have been documents relating to a report into corruption at Kisumu Council which he was known to be working on and a draft of which was found in the safe at Koru and another handed to Scotland Yard by Mrs Ouko.

And what Troon did not know but which became public in 2003, was that Domenico Airaghi and Briner-Mattern had a record of using forged, back-dated documentation to support their cause, that they were not ‘honest’ and the company ‘BAK’ was not ‘reputable’.


Detective Superintendent John Troon based his all but total acceptance of the Briner-Mattern and Airaghi allegations on his assessment that they were ‘honest’ and ran a ‘reputable’ company.

He stated so to the Judicial Inquiry in 1991:

In my view I interviewed one of the witnesses, and one of my colleagues interviewed the other one. That is the advantage I have over you and as far as I assessed those witnesses, they were truthful and honest witnesses, and having talked to them my Lords, it was conveyed to me that they were under a reputable company…”

His assessment was wrong… badly wrong.

For all of the time that Dominic Airaghi was negotiating with the Kenyan Government regarding the Molasses Project he was in fact out on a bail having been convicted and sentence by a court in Milan after been found to have committed offences of corruption and presenting false evidence.

On the 14th March 1987, Dominico Airaghi and an accomplice were convicted (Civil and Criminal Court of Milan) on charges of corruption. The Court found that Airaghi had presented false evidence and false documents in an attempt to establish his defence. The Justice described Airaghi as having displayed “the attributes of an International Fortune Hunter. [71 Milan Judges remarks]

Marianne Briner-Matter, or Marianne Briner as she termed herself at the time, who described herself as a “secretary” of “International Escort” an “employment agency”, gave evidence in Airaghi’s defence. The court found her evidence in support of Airaghi to be false. The judge said of Marianne Briner, “who lived with Airgahi”, that it would better to draw a “compassionate veil” over her testimony and commented on her “unreliability” as a witness. [71 Milan Judges remarks]

Airaghi appealed against his conviction, the final appeal ending in the conviction being upheld on the 4th April, 1991. [72]

Nor was BAK a bona fide company as Troon assumed and as the Kenyan government had been led to believe.

Various BAK entities were found to have used four different names and two addresses in just three years. The addresses given for each entity were low rent offices in Baden, Switzerland.

Coincidently or not, ‘BAK Group Marianne Briner + Partner’ was only finally registered as a joint partnership on 13th February 1990, the day that Robert Ouko was murdered.

Liquidation proceedings against this BAK company began in Switzerland on 25th February 1992 and in June 1992 it was struck off the Register of Companies. At the same time as the insolvency proceedings in Switzerland, Airaghi and Briner-Mattern established PTA BAK Group International Consultants in Spain. It was also subsequently to be struck off the corporate register.

After Dr Ouko’s murder, Domenico Airgahi and Marianne Briner-Mattern’s claim for losses in relation to the ‘Molasses Project’ increased from $150,000 to $5.975 million.

Had Troon known of the backgrounds of Domenico Airaghi and Marianne Briner-Mattern it is unlikely that he would have included their evidence in his report but he did not undertake fundamentally important basic investigative steps before accepting them as ‘truthful and honest witnesses’ or arriving at his conclusions.

Troon’s theories, based on the testimony of Domenico Airaghi and Marianne Briner-Mattern, of corruption linked to the Molasses Project and the writing of a ‘Corruption Report’ by Dr Ouko, have been proven to be without any evidential basis.

Next Chapter: ‘Who killed Dr RJ Ouko and Why?’