Amnesty for wealthy Kenyans to bring back cash stashed abroad


Several Kenyans have businesses in Panama, one of the largest tax havens. FILE

Wealthy Kenyans who have stashed cash abroad will get a blanket amnesty to repatriate the money tax-free, with no questions asked about the origin of such riches.

Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich granted the amnesty in his budget speech with the aim attracting Kenyan investors who have opted for offshore investments.

Those seeking amnesty will however have to submit their returns and accounts for the year 2016 between January 1 and December 31 next year.

The government will not probe the origins of the income and assets reinvested in Kenya as part of the deal.

“Taxpayers who take up this amnesty shall have all principal taxes, interests and penalties for the year of income, 2016 and the prior years automatically remitted in total. In addition, the Government shall not follow up on the sources of such income and assets declared,” the Treasury CS added.

A newly released report by New World Wealth says the high-net worth individuals in Kenya stash their money in foreign banks.

The report stated that about 50 per cent of these high net worth individuals are elite with political connections, and are estimated to have $10 billion (about Sh1 trillion) banked abroad, constituting 30 per cent of national wealth, mostly in foreign private banks in UK, Switzerland, Cyprus and Channel Islands.

READ: 238 Kenyans on list of those with Swiss bank accounts

The amnesty granted by the government will apply to Kenyans with hidden businesses and assets.

“The government is aware that there are taxpayers who own assets and businesses outside the country and would be willing to reinvest back home provided that there is a conducive environment to facilitate such reinvestments. Consequently, I propose to declare tax amnesty for such taxpayers provided that they submit their return and accounts for the year of income, 2016, between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017,” Mr Rotich said.

The 2004 Kroll report also stated that powerful individuals from the Moi-era had by the release of the probe stashed over Sh145 billion abroad.

Several Kenyans have also been named in a long list of businessmen from around the world with assets and businesses in Panama which has emerged as one of the largest tax havens.

The list, released by International Consortium of International journalists named 191 individuals and 25 offshore companies with links to Kenya.

Among the individuals named are deputy Chief Justice Kalpana Rawal, Nairobi lawyer James Singh Gitau and Aly Popat — the son of former Imperial Bank chairman Alnashir Popat.