Bill empowers EACC to recover graft loot in foreign countries


EACC offices in Nairobi. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT | NMG

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) will have power to seek recovery of ill-gotten wealth stashed abroad through foreign courts if MPs pass a new Bill into law.

The Bill, currently before the National Assembly, seeks to empower the anti-graft watchdog to institute proceedings for the recovery of property or proceeds of corruption located outside Kenya.

The Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) Bill, 2020 expands the mandate of EACC beyond the local courts.

“The Ethics and Anti -Corruption Act 2011 is amended in section 11(1) (j) by inserting the words "including proceedings for the recovery of property or proceeds of corruption located outside Kenya" immediately after the word "measures".

Currently, the EACC Act require the commission to institute and conduct proceedings in court for purposes of the recovery or protection of public property or for the freeze or confiscation of proceeds of corruption or related to corruption or the payment of compensation or other punitive and disciplinary measures.

But the State seeks to expand the functions of the EACC to include the pursuit of recovery of property acquired through sleaze or proceeds of corruption stashed in tax heavens abroad.

If MPs approve the proposed changes to the law, it means EACC can hire foreign lawyers to file legal suits abroad to attach offshore accounts and repatriate ill-gotten wealth hidden abroad in tax havens.

The British and other governments have previously offered to help Kenya trace and recover assets looted by Moi-era power men named in the Kroll Report.

In 2016, the UK authorities said they were in touch with Nairobi to help identify and seize the more than £1 billion (Sh145 billion) looted from taxpayers and stashed in offshore bank accounts and prime real estate purchases in the UK.

The Kroll report, which was commissioned by former President Daniel Moi successor Mwai Kibaki uncovered systematic looting of public resources that were subsequently hidden in more than 40 countries and tax havens around the world in the form of cash in banks, land, ranches, and shares in blue-chip companies.

The British government seized assets and repatriated the proceeds of the case in the so-called Chickengate scandal.