September 19, 2019

Kenya: Sh3bn graft money recovered in 2 years

Former Nyeri County executives (from left) John Maina, Martin Wamwea and Simon Wachira listen to the judgment of corruption cases against them at the Nyeri Law Courts on September 26. PHOTO | NICHOLAS KOMU

The government has recovered over Sh3 billion from proceeds of corruption and money laundering in the past two years, with at least 700 corruption cases going on in different parts.

Attorney-General Paul Kihara gave this report on Monday, adding that the State has frozen and recovered assets amounting to Sh2 billion, a large portion of Sh1.2 billion being from the NYS 2 case.

“We have at least over Sh3 billion in recoveries from corruption and money laundering cases,” Mr Kihara said in a speech read on his behalf by Assets Recovery Agency Director Muthoni Kimani.

“We are continuing with financial investigations into the [National Youth Service] case but we have also recovered assets that have been returned to the state,” stated the speech issued during an anti-money laundering and asset recovery workshop at Radisson Blu Hotel, Nairobi.

Mr Kihara noted that the government stepped up its fight against corruption through the establishment in 2015 of the National Task Force on Anti-Money Laundering.

The task force, responsible for increased investigations, arrests and prosecutions, is chaired by the National Treasury, with members including the AG and representatives from the Financial Reporting Centre (FRC), law enforcement agencies and institutions in the private sector, which are key in regulating financial transactions and are obligated to report suspicious ones.

“Our focus on asset recovery has the highest political will from President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has expressed his commitment in terms of the law and resources,” Mr Kihara pointed out.

The AG, however, said he was concerned that advancements in technology had made it easy to move and hide illicit funds, with terrorism continuing to gain prominence in the age of globalisation.

The world is facing challenges due to rising transnational organised crimes and syndicates involved in illegal acts such terrorism, corruption, counterfeits, wildlife, human and drug trafficking and cybercrimes, he said.

COMPLICATED

Ms Kimani explained that identifying and tracing the assets is a complicated process which takes time and needs multi-agency approaches, so they have collaborated with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI)

“Police and the DCI deal with predicate offences such as fraud, corruption, embezzlement and economic crimes and so when we go to them they give us information and we investigate, follow and trace the assets,” she explained.

The director reported that they have seize cars, houses and other properties and recovered at least Sh500 million in the NYS 1 case.

Ms Kimani said that Kenya is yet to carry out a national risk assessment to be able to know high risk areas for money laundering but exuded confidence that it is now difficult to launder money with new laws in place.

TOOLS

Markus Green, board member of the Conference of Western Attorneys General Africa Alliance Partnership (CWA,G AAP), which organised the workshop, said prosecutors and investigators should be given tools to combat transnational crimes.

Mr Green noted that “the game has changed”, with criminals turning to developments such as cryptocurrencies and the dark web.

“The question is capacity; having enough trained prosecutors. How can we train the prosecutors and the judges to make sure everyone is on the same page and working together?”

He explained that asset forfeiture and taking away the liberties of criminals are some of the key ways to curb the crime.

NIGERIA CASE

Mr Joseph Abang, Attorney-General of Cross River State in Nigeria, said that due to stricter legislations in the West African country, they have managed to recover over Sh10 billion ($100,000 million) in only two years and thwart other attempts at money laundering.

Mr Abang said that it has taken the country over 10 years to repatriate money laundered by former President Sani Abacha but that 2018 was a success since they recovered proceeds of corruption and money laundering from Swiss Bank and through USA’s Department of Justice.

“We have put in place proper legal frameworks, such as the Whistle Blowing Act, to nip the act at home and not wait until the money goes to foreign banks,” he said.

“They are now keeping the money in private homes because of enhanced legislation and enforcement. We are stifling their usual channels abroad it to make it hard for them to siphon the money,” said Mr Abang.

This article was first published by Daily Nation

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