Kenya, Swiss sign deal to recover corruption loot

The fight against cor­rup­tion went a notch high­er on Monday fol­low­ing the sign­ing of an agree­ment that clears the way for the recov­ery of assets acquired through graft and stashed in for­eign countries.

The agree­ment was signed by Attorney General Paul Kariuki and Switzerland ambas­sador to Kenya Ralf Heckner in an event wit­nessed by Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and his Swiss coun­ter­part Alain Berset.

The first assets to be tar­get­ed will be monies stolen through the Anglo-Leasing scan­dal and hid­den in Switzerland.

Last year, the European nation said it had frozen Sh200 mil­lion stashed in the coun­try from the scam.

Switzerland last month con­firmed it had repa­tri­at­ed a total of $1.2 bil­lion to Nigeria—$722 mil­lion in 2005 and $322 mil­lion of the loot­ed assets of for­mer mil­i­tary ruler Sani Abacha, as it seeks to shake off the tag of being a safe haven for stolen pub­lic funds.

This agree­ment will ensure that ille­gal­ly acquired wealth held out­side the coun­try is repa­tri­at­ed to ben­e­fit the Kenyan peo­ple,” President Kenyatta said yes­ter­day at State House dur­ing the sign­ing of the agreement.

We have seen in the last few months a new inten­si­ty in the fight against cor­rup­tion in Kenya. Quite frankly, my admin­is­tra­tion has shown that cor­rup­tion can­not, and, will not be tol­er­at­ed,” he said.

The agree­ment, which is also sup­port­ed by the United Kingdom and the Jersey Island, will cre­ate a mech­a­nism for Kenya to recov­er mon­ey stolen by cor­rupt indi­vid­u­als and hid­den in the three countries.

State House lat­er said a steer­ing com­mit­tee com­pris­ing the Executive Office of the President, the Attorney General, the National Treasury, the Assets Recovery Agency, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Agency and envoys or rep­re­sen­ta­tives rep­re­sent­ing the part­ner coun­tries will be estab­lished to imple­ment the deal.

Part of the roles of the team, the state­ment said, will be iden­ti­fy­ing poten­tial assets to be recov­ered, and poten­tial imple­ment­ing organ­i­sa­tions, decid­ing unan­i­mous­ly on pri­or­i­ties for the use of returned funds, mon­i­tor progress in return­ing assets, receive reports on the progress of projects fund­ed through recov­ered assets and learn­ing lessons for future returns.

To avoid com­pli­cat­ing the asset recov­ery process, the frame­work says the recov­ery should fol­low exe­cutable judge­ments, a state­ment from State House said.

Other coun­tries that have anti-cor­rup­tion laws and have iden­ti­fied pro­ceeds of cor­rup­tion that they are will­ing to return to Kenya may join as new part­ners with con­sent of all the exist­ing part­ners and the gov­ern­ment of Kenya,” the doc­u­ment fur­ther reads.

President Berset, who is on a two-day vis­it to Kenya, termed Kenya’s ties with the Swiss stronger after it opened its embassy in the coun­try last year. He not­ed that trade had dou­bled since 2005.

President Kenyatta announced that Kenya will open a new embassy in Bern, Switzerland before the end of October 2018. Earlier, the two lead­ers held pri­vate talks fol­lowed by a bilat­er­al meet­ing where they dis­cussed how to deep­en trade and secu­ri­ty ties between the two countries.

Kenya, Swiss sign deal to recov­er cor­rup­tion loot