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Fake newspaper front page claims Kenyan alcohol regulator involved in illegal ethanol trade

The Star newspaper did not publish a story linking an alcoholic drinks regulator in the country to illegal ethanol trade. The front page circulating on social media is false.

The headline of what appears to be the front page of an edition of the Kenyan newspaper the Star recently claimed that the head of an alcoholic drinks regulator in Meru county was complicit in illegal alcohol trade. 

“Chalkman Energy Limited: a company associated with Meru county Alcoholic Drinks Control Board CEO Dr. Mbaabu Muguna involved in illegal Ethanol Trade,” the headline reads.

Mbaabu Muguna is the chief executive officer of the Meru County Alcoholic Drinks Control Board.

The text below the headline reads: “Dr. Mbaabu one of the Directors of ChalkMan Energy Limited, is the one the region’s biggest Ethanol moguls using a web of highly-placed connections and carefully doctored documents.”

Meru county is just under 300 kilometres from Nairobi, Kenya’s capital.

In May 2023, Muguna closed down more than 130 non-compliant bars due to concerns about high alcohol consumption and regulatory violations. Kenyan authorities are enforcing strict standards nationally for the location of bars, leading to the closure of those that do not meet requirements.

In February, after more than 20 people lost their lives in Kirinyaga county to illegal brew, Kenya's interior minister Kithure Kindiki announced a nationwide crackdown on illegal brew sellers. Kirinyaga lies another 120-odd kilometres from Meru.

The claim began circulating in March 2024, when the Meru alcoholic drinks control board closed more than 90 establishments

Despite the allegation linking Muguna to illegal ethanol trade through “Chalkman Energy Limited”, there is no legal evidence of the existence of this company

Such unsubstantiated allegations risk tarnishing Muguna's reputation and undermining his ability to lead the fight against drug and substance abuse.

The front page can be found here, here and here.

So, did the Star really report this? We checked.

Star fake front page

Doctored front page

The Star often posts its front pages on social media, but we could not find this one.

The front page in question also didn’t feature a publication date, and the format of the headline and grammatical errors in the text below the headline raised doubts about its authenticity.

The newspaper subsequently disowned the front page. “Stay alert and beware of fake news. If it is not on our official pages, it is FAKE! Visit or for real and authentic news,” wrote the Star, above a graphic of the offending page


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