Companies on the spot as new anti-bribery law takes effect

Lawyer Mohammed Nyaoga. PHOTO | FILE
Lawyer Mohammed Nyaoga. PHOTO | FILE 

A law criminalising acts of bribery takes effect Friday, exposing business executives to a Sh5 million fine and 10-year embargo on their firms for engaging in the vice.

The Bribery Act (2016) applies to all ongoing bribery-related court cases and investigations, meaning managers and companies caught in unresolved bribery scams are exposed.

Some of the unresolved cases include the ongoing IEBC chickengate, Goodyear’s tyre deal, British American Tobacco’s “cigarette” scandal, allegation of Sanofi bribery of doctors and Nike’s deal with athletics officials.

“Any investigation or prosecution or court proceedings instituted before the commencement of this Act based on an offence under this Act shall, with the necessary modifications, be treated or continued as if they were instituted under this Act,” reads section 27(2) of the Bribery Act.

President Uhuru Kenyatta assented to the anti-bribery law on December 23, 2016 and designated January 13, 2017 as the commencement date.


The new law, modelled along the UK’s Bribery Act, seeks to punish private sector bribery, especially in dealings with government and public agencies by making it a criminal offence to abet, give, or receive bribes.

Wheeler-dealers and “tenderpreneurs” convicted of giving, soliciting, receiving, or agreeing to receive a bribe face a Sh5 million fine and a 10-year jail term, coupled with a 10-year ban from holding any public office, company directorship or partner in any firm.

Companies found guilty of engaging or promising to give bribes to win contracts or influence business decisions in their favour face a Sh5 million fine accompanied with a 10-year embargo from transacting business with the national or county governments.

“An individual found guilty of an offence shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years, or to a fine not exceeding Sh5 million, or both,” reads section 18(1) of the Bribery Act.

“A person, other than a natural person, convicted of bribery, shall be disqualified from transacting business with the national or county government for a period of 10 years after such conviction,” says the law drafted by lawyer Mohammed Nyaoga.

American tyre firm Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co is being investigated for allegation that it spent Sh150 million ($1.5 million) in bribes to top executives at Kenya Ports Authority, Kenyan Air Force, Ministry of Roads, Ministry of Defence, East African Portland Cement Company (EAPCC) in order to win supply tenders.

Cigarette maker BAT has been accused of paying out large kickbacks to Kenyan officials to stifle anti-smoking laws and harass arch-rival Mastermind Tobacco, Sanofi allegedly bribed Kenyan doctors to prescribe its medicine, and Nike allegedly bribed Kenyan athletic officials to have runners wear their kits.

Those found to have benefited from proceeds of bribery and graft will have their assets seized five times the amount of bribes received, or loss suffered by taxpayers.