Economy

EACC records worst assets recovery in four years

WAQO

Mr Halakhe Waqo, the EACC chief executive. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU

Summary

  • EACC seized assets worth Sh140.2 million fraudulently amassed by individuals out of a total of Sh3.86 billion put under probe in the year to June 2015.
  • The anti-graft agency links difficult 2015 to lengthy court processes, human resource, policies and legal framework.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) got back only one out of every Sh25 worth of public assets that it set out to recover last year as infighting rocked its operations and drove out top executives.

The anti-graft agency seized assets worth Sh140.2 million fraudulently amassed by individuals out of a total of Sh3.86 billion put under probe in the year to June 2015, translating to a dismal recovery rate of 3.6 per cent.

The 2015 asset recovery and forfeiture — consisting mostly of grabbed public land and looted taxpayer cash — is the lowest since EACC was established in 2011.

The poor performance stands in sharp contrast to the gradual increase in budgetary allocation over the period as the State sought to boost the agency’s capacity to fight corruption.

“A total of 27 asset-tracing investigations of illegally acquired assets estimated at Sh3.861 billion were undertaken and assets valued at approximately Sh140.2 million were recovered,” said EACC chief executive Halakhe Waqo in the agency’s annual report for the fiscal year ended June 2015. Mr Waqo said the public assets were recovered through court rulings and out-of-court deals.

The agency has blamed the low recovery rates of looted assets on lengthy court processes, human resource constraints, inadequate policy and legal framework, and an entrenched unethical culture among Kenyans.

“Slow adjudication of cases characterised by frequent adjournments, numerous judicial review applications and constitutional references affected execution of the commission’s mandate on asset recovery,” said Mr Waqo.

READ: EACC has little to show on ‘chickengate’ scandal as UK goes after briber’s assets

It is however known that the EACC’s top management team was embroiled in a vicious infighting that only ended after its chairman and remaining commissioners resigned.

The assets recovered last year include Sh25.2 million from former Kemri boss Davy Koech, Sh97 million from Christopher Ochieng of Intro Networks for defrauding Kenya Industrial Estates, and Sh11 million from ex-Kenya Re managing director Johnson Githaka.

Last year’s asset forfeitures is a 93 per cent dip compared to the Sh2.06 billion worth of embezzled public property recovered in the year to June 2014.

EACC recovered Sh567.4 million in 2013 and Sh526.6 million of pillaged public assets a year earlier.

Some of the prime assets recovered by the anti-graft agency include the Grand Regency Hotel which was sold for Sh2.9 billion to Libya, Mombasa’s Uhuru Gardens valued at Sh500 million, which had been grabbed by a firm known as Comen Ltd.

Kenya is estimated to be losing more than Sh500 billion or about a tenth of GDP annually through bribery, creative accounting, wasteful spending, tendering fraud, and other graft practices, according to a study by KPMG.