11 July 2018

Kenya: Govt Signs Deal to Return Stolen Wealth From Switzerland

Photo: This Day
Conflict, poverty is a curse.

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Swiss counterpart Alain Berset have signed an agreement aimed at helping Kenya recover illegally acquired assets that were stashed in Swiss banks.

Kenyatta and Berset signed the agreement Monday during the Swiss president's two-day visit to Kenya.

The agreement, known as the Framework for the Return of Assets from Corruption and Crime in Kenya, or FRACCK, creates a mechanism for Kenya to recover money swindled from state coffers by corrupt individuals and hidden in Switzerland.

The agreement is the latest move in Kenyatta’s campaign against corruption, which he launched in his second term as president.

In June, the Kenyan leader announced that all public servants would undergo a compulsory "lifestyle audit" to account for the sources of their income and assets. He said Monday that corruption will not be tolerated.

“Corruption directly threatens Kenya's future, as it denies our children the education they deserve, it denies Kenyans the public good that their hard work has earned them, and it also degrades the quality of our government as well as erodes investor confidence," said Kenyatta.

In most African countries, where state looting of public coffers is rife, money stolen by powerful elites end up stashed in foreign offshore accounts. According to the U.N. Economic Commission on Africa, capital flight and illicit financial flows cost the continent up to $150 billion per year.

Other African governments with newfound democracies are attempting to recover money stored in foreign accounts. In June this year, the Swiss government repatriated to Nigeria more than $1 billion stashed by former head of state Sani Abacha.

Beret said his country is willing to return assets to Kenya as well.

“We have a history and a policy of freezing and returning stolen assets and we need partners like Kenya in all those two duties. It is also through a partnership that an agreement can be reached on how to return this assets in a way that benefits the people of the country concerned,” he said.

Some of the assets targeted by the new framework include money stolen through the Anglo Leasing scandal, a government procurement facilitated corruption scandal in Kenya that was revealed in 2004. Switzerland has blocked financial assets linked to the scandal.

According to Monday's agreement, the two countries will name a steering committee to implement the deal.

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