War on Corruption gets a boost of investigators
By Department of Public Communications, Nairobi, November 3, 2016
Various approaches applied by the MAT Agencies in combating organized crime such as asset tracing freezing/restraint and recovery, prosecution, net worth analysis, was eye opening
The fight against corruption recently received a boost after the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) completed training 40 security officers on the investigation and prosecution of corruption and economic crimes at the Kenya School of Government in Embu.
The training is one of the planned programmes for capacity building for law enforcement agencies whose aim is to institutionalize the Multi Agency Security approach in the investigations of corruption and economic crimes as well as serious organized crimes. The one-week training also covered sensitization on Anti-money laundering, counter financing of terrorism, prevention of organized crimes and tax evasion.
The training has also equipped the officers with the tools and procedures available to law enforcement in dealing with these crimes in the country. The law enforcement officers were trained on the various strategies and work-plans on the expected outcomes of the MAT synergy arrangements, including reporting timelines and formats.
It further provided the officers an opportunity to meet and learn on how to work as a team while promoting greater cooperation and coordination among enforcement and intelligence agencies in the country.
Speaking during the closing ceremony on Friday, the Director of the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA), Ms. Muthoni Kimani, called for cooperation and collaboration of the officers noting it was imperative that they understand the legal framework and mandate of the various agencies in line with emerging laws and diverse criminal activities such as financial crimes, money laundering, corruption, tax evasion, terrorism, drugs and human trafficking.
Ms Kimani observed it was important to develop new approaches for these crimes as they presented challenges to the MAT agencies in the areas of asset tracing, freezing and recovery, as well as in the prosecution process.
“I believe that the presentations made by facilitators from MAT agencies on co-operation collaboration, legal framework and mandate of the Agencies, emerging laws such as POCAMLA, organized crimes such as financial crimes, money laundering, corruption, tax crimes, drug and human trafficking, terrorism was enlighting.”
Similarly, the various approaches applied by the MAT Agencies in combating organized crime such as asset tracing freezing/restraint and recovery, prosecution, net worth analysis, was eye opening.
“It is my sincere believe the knowledge you have gained from this training will be applied and that you will work together in fighting organized crimes, Ms Kimani added.
She confirmed that the Sustainable Development Goals promoted the rule of law, crime prevention and criminal justice as foundation upon which national development would be anchored.
“Corruption, economic crimes, tax evasion and money laundering have in the last few years globally been the topical issues with new approaches being explored to combat theses heinous crimes against society. International institutions have urged states to review their law enforcement to ensure a single approach or speaking as one Government, to addressing these issues in investigations and prosecution,” the Director of ARA told the officers.
While commending the security officers for their contribution in peace, security and development in the country she reminded them that the President and the Government heavily relied on them to successfully investigate and prosecute offenses so as to protect and change the image of the country.
She called upon all multi-agency law enforcement officers to deliver to Kenyans better investigations, prosecutions and recovered stolen assets, so that Kenyans could regain back their confidence in their national institutions. She further urged the officers to prioritize tackling corruption and economic crimes in the different counties and in the country in general.
Sh743m stolen assets, cash seized in anti-corruption war
The list of recovered assets includes five plots of land worth Ksh169.2 million, five motor vehicles valued at Ksh43.5 million, a city restaurant valued at Ksh16 million and cash in various bank accounts totalling Sh128.6 million.
The remaining Ksh385.9 million are in the form of assets frozen in a tax evasion case involving Eastleigh Mall where the ARA has obtained court orders barring the owners from selling or transferring assets until an application to take control of the building to recover unpaid revenue has been determined.
Ms. Muthoni told Parliament that the agency is facing challenges involving human resource capacity and limited resources that have prevented it from aggressively going after the thieves.
“Unfortunately we do not have enough people with the skills in financial and forensic audit to help us achieve full potential,” she told the Senate Public Accounts and Investments Committee (PAIC).
The committee heard that the ARA was until November last year unable to move to court because it was yet to be operationalised.
“Since November we have been able to move to court for the NYS case and freeze some assets because the investigators were able to trace some assets and monitor how the funds were moving,” Ms Kimani said.
The ARA director told the Senators that the agency gives priority to sensitive cases that are of great public interest, explaining why most of the frozen property is linked to the NYS scam.
“If a matter is sensitive we prioritise it by making available all the resources needed and the investigation is fast tracked,” she said.
Among the five parcels of land believed to have been bought with proceeds of the NYS cash theft is a plot in Thika valued at Sh35 million and another one in Muthaiga valued at Sh45 million belonging to embattled businessman Ben Gethi’s mother, Charity Wangui.
Other properties identified for seizure and registered under Ms Wangui’s name are a house in Rosslyn Estate valued at Sh63.5 million and a jeep valued at Sh6.3 million.
Ms Wangui has, however, denied in court filings that any of the parcels of land, houses or the Range Rover linked to the NYS scam are registered to her.