Tighten the noose on graft in private sector


Integrity Centre that hosts Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) offices in Nairobi. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

Every time Kenya is ranked high on a corruption perception report or a scandal is unearthed, much of the attention tends to be on the public sector.

Yet graft in private companies deserves as much scrutiny.

That CEOs now face a Sh1 million fine or 10 years in jail if they fail to set up an internal code of conduct for battling bribery and corruption in their companies means that Kenya is finally taking this fight to the private sector.

About 70 percent of all corruption in Kenya relates to procurement, especially in government ministries and departments, where greedy officials and unscrupulous business people collude to rip off the public, but the beneficiaries of these multi-million shilling deals are both in the public and private sectors.

When it comes to graft, it takes two to tango. We have seen how the private sector played a key role in the scandals at the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), Kenya Power, Kenya Pipeline Company, and the National Youth Service (NYS). Money stolen from such deals was channeled through private banks or enterprises.

There have been other cases of graft in the corporate sector, including tax evasion by multinational corporations operating in Kenya, insider trading in the financial sector, and money laundering as cash obtained from the sale of illegal goods such as drugs is integrated into the formal banking system, among others.

Therefore, companies must speedily come up with written codes mapping out corruption risks and ways to combat the vice.

Company executives must start reporting cases of bribery or corruption to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) promptly.

The application of the anti-corruption ethics and compliance guidelines should extend to business partners. This means all CEOs must prohibit bribery in all their business transactions that are carried out directly or through third parties, including subsidiaries, joint ventures, consultants, and suppliers.

There must be a greater public-private partnership in this effort if the anti-bribery law of 2016 is to help curb corruption which continues to have debilitating effects on the economy.