Kenya oil baron’s Jersey cash flagged in tax racket

Frozen money concept. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Jersey authorities have flagged secret accounts of cash stashed by a wealthy Kenyan oil executive over a two-decade period in their banks, which they suspect to be proceeds of graft linked to illegal financial activities in Kenya.

Jersey authorities say the suspect based in Kenya, could be engaged in a tax evasion racket in Kenya and money laundering in Jersey, via the secret deposits that have been used in part to fund the purchase of a luxury real estate in Western capitals.

“A local entity has a client who is a Kenyan national, resident in Kenya. They have had a relationship with the local Trust and Corporate Service Provider (TCSP) for over 20 years,” said the Jersey Financial Intelligence Unit, which is the Island nation's financial transactions watchdog in a regulatory update seen by the Business Daily.

“The legal arrangement has received numerous deposits of additional funds over the years as a result of the client’s employment in the oil industry.”

The Jersey authorities said the unnamed oil executive has not been declaring any income to tax authorities in Kenya underlining their suspicion the money could be proceeds of graft.

They said the executive who has had an illustrious career in the country's lucrative oil and gas sector has used the proceeds to acquire luxury properties in America and the United Kingdom.

“The funds in Jersey have been used to purchase a real estate portfolio in the US and the UK. A review of the client’s relationship and accounts, coupled with open source analysis, indicates that the client has not declared their income to their residential jurisdiction for over 10 years,” said the Jersey authorities.

"The local TCSP suspects it may be holding the proceeds of criminal conduct related to tax evasion."

The Jersey authorities did not provide the Business Daily with details of the amounts in question and identity of the oil executive by press time.

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) did not respond to Business Daily's queries on whether it was aware of the case and whether it would seek mutual legal assistance in establishing the alleged tax evasion scheme from Jersey authorities.

Kenya signed an agreement in 2018 with their Jersey counterparts, that paved the way for the return to Kenya of about Sh450.6 million stolen from government coffers, seized from the secret offshore banks belonging to former Kenya Power boss Samuel Gichuru and ex-Energy minister Chris Okemo.

Attorney-General, Paul Kihara Kariuki, and the external affairs minister from the government of Jersey, Senator Ian Gorst, signed the Framework for Return of Assets from Corruption and Crime, or FRACCK, in Nairobi.

The funds were repatriated recently and both authorities in Kenya and Jersey agreed to buy ambulances, ICU beds and oxygen generators.

The authorities in Jersey, which is part of the British Isles, said the Sh450.6 million will be the first batch of cash seized from Kenyans that will be repatriated to Nairobi — more than nine years after the secret accounts were frozen.

The island of Jersey — a bank secrecy stronghold nestled between France and England — has for long thrived in the past few decades as an offshore centre.

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