Skechers: Nike accused of bribes in Kenya

Money Given to Kenya, Since Stolen, Puts Nike in Spotlight…

NAIROBI, Kenya — When a Chinese clothing company swooped in and offered to sponsor Kenya’s famed runners, Nike panicked, Kenyan officials say.

“Can we talk about the situation?” a Nike executive wrote to a Kenyan official after hearing the news that the Kenyans wanted to end their deal with Nike. “You and I go back a long way.” What followed — according to email exchanges, letters, bank records and invoices, provided by a former employee of Kenya’s athletics federation — has led to a major scandal in Kenya, a country in the midst of its biggest war against corruption in years.

In a contract signed several years ago, Nike agreed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in honorariums and a one-time $500,000 “commitment bonus,” which the former employee called a bribe. The money was supposed to be used to help train and support poor Kenyan athletes who dream of running their way out of poverty. Instead, it was immediately sucked out of the federation’s bank account by a handful of Kenyan officials and kept off the books.

Nike has denied any wrongdoing, saying in a statement that its payments were intended to help athletes, and it does not appear to be under investigation by the United States authorities. But the Kenyan authorities are suspicious. They have opened an extensive investigation, and all three Kenyan athletics officials accused of taking money from Nike have been suspended. Investigators with Kenya’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations said they had repeatedly asked Nike to provide more information. So far, they say, Nike has refused.

“Why was such a huge sum of money paid as commitment?” said one of the detectives, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. “It’s only Nike who can tell us.” John Githongo, one of Kenya’s leading voices against corruption, said the American government should pick up this case and “run with it.”

For more than 20 years, Nike Inc. has been paying the Kenyan national runners’ association millions of dollars in exchange for the Kenyans wearing Nike’s signature swoosh, superb advertising in the running world.

Can only be good for Skechers.


I live in Uganda. Expatriates have an expression, TIA. This is Africa.

Lots of stuff goes on behind the scenes. This is because everyone in Africa is overextended financially, and looking for ways to squeeze the system.

When I read an article like this, what pops out at me is Kabuki theater. People are realizing that there is a Nike gold mine, and everyone wants to milk it, including investigators.

Believe me, they know how to make things look legal to clueless Americans. You give money to a charitable cause, not a penny will reach the target of the charity.

There’s a group claiming to serve orphans near where I live. One problem, orphans are very scarce, since the AIDS epidemic that originally created them has been tamed. Yet tourists keep giving, and more orphanages spring up to cater to tourists who want to give to orphans.

Language gas been created to help this trade. There’s single and double orphans here, where single orphans have lost one parent.

Of course when eblast go home, they get impatient with American bureaucracy, because with the right connections, everything works faster in Africa. TIA. This is America.



Hi Paul,

I looked at your Info and Moniker.

I see you live in Uganda and have done some really cool things over there. Very interesting about the Mutwa pygmy group.

Sad to hear about corrupt charities. I despise the type of people who do such a thing.



A recent one. A fake Batwa aid group got a tourist to donate for land for the Batwa. There were photos of deeds, bills of sale, everything. One brother sold his land to the other brother. The Batwa saw nothing.

I have told local Batwa about this. :sunglasses:

Also, there’s no trademark protection here. There might be a legitimate charity that does good work, but you have to be careful that they’re the people contacting you.