By Samuel Ouma
The government’s effort to eradicate graft which has been the country’s greatest impediment to development for several decades received a boost on Tuesday following the signing of an agreement that clears the way for the recovery of assets acquired through graft and stashed in foreign countries.
The Attorney General Paul Kihara and Jersey’s Minister for External Affairs Senator Ian Gorst signed a pact that would see Kenya recover Ksh.516 million (USD $5.16 million) hidden in the state. The agreement is called Framework for Return of Assets from Corruption and Crime (FRACC).
The recovered assets would be slated for development projects as revealed by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (a body mandated to fight corruption) chair Halakhe Waqo immediately after signing of the deal.
Gorst noted that Jersey had put in place measures to prevent the transfer of illegitimate wealth from other countries.
“Citizens must feel the benefits of the illicit funds that are being returned and that is why signing this agreement and the MoU is important. It is a framework that will be replicated with other countries,” said Gorst.
The pact will so help Kenya strengthen her partnership with other countries in a bid to prevent, identify and provide return mechanism of corruption loot.
The Government of Kenya committed to go on with provision of the widest Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal investigations, Prosecutions and Judicial Proceedings in criminal matters while throwing her weight behind international co-operation in the fight against transnational organized crime, corruption and money laundering.
“Our respective governments’ cooperation in the timely sharing of financial intelligence and subsequent recovery of assets is critical in the fight against corruption and money laundering. Cooperation, particularly with regard to financial intelligence on political exposed persons, and other Kenyan citizens holding accounts within the Jersey financial system, will be crucial as Kenya continues with war on corruption,” said Paul Kihara, the Attorney General.
The two governments also agreed to explore areas of collaboration matters related to double taxation while finalizing the final asset recovery and Financial Cooperation.
Kenya reached a similar agreement with Switzerland in July this year to recover assets stashed in the country. Swiss government had reported that it had frozen Ksh.200 million (USD$2 million) held in the country’s accounts as part of the cases in the Anglo-Leasing.
Kenya and Jersey first agreement to a mutual Legal Assistance dates back to 2007 during investigation into the Anglo-Leasing cases. It resulted to freezing of suspects’ funds held in Jersey banks. The amount was approximated to be 4 million Sterling pounds.