NATIONALNEWS

Kenya pens deal for return of stolen wealth from Switzerland

President signs agreement with Swiss counterpart to repossess cash stashed in European nation as war on graft soars

The war against corruption moved a notch higher yesterday after the government signed a deal that will see all stolen wealth returned from Swiss banks.

After signing the deal with his Swiss counterpart Alain Berset, President Uhuru Kenyatta declared the money once returned, will be channelled to projects.

Berset, who is in the country for a two-day official visit, held bilateral talks with Uhuru at State House, Nairobi, after which they signed the Framework for the Return of Assets from Corruption and Crime in Kenya (FRACCK).

Also supported by United Kingdom and Jersey, the framework will go a long way in developing a mechanism within which proceeds of crime and corruption can be repatriated to Kenya.

The move comes against the backdrop of the government’s intensified efforts in the war against graft, with Uhuru declaring “ it cannot and will not be tolerated”.

“We have seen, in the last few months, a new intensity in the fight against corruption in Kenya. Quite frankly, my administration has shown that corruption cannot, and, will not, be tolerated”. 

Uhuru said the agreement signed yesterday was part of his government’s resolve to fight graft, and to send the message that corruption does not pay. He affirmed that the fight would continue unabated.

“After successful negotiations, we agreed on a framework for return of assets, which sets out the action plan for the return of illegally acquired assets and their repatriation to benefit Kenyans. We look forward to returning hard earned resources back to Kenya,” he said.

According to the Kroll report commissioned by President Kibaki’s government in 2003 and released in April 2004, some wealthy Kenyans had stashed close to $3 billion  (approximately Sh300 billion) believed to be proceeds of crime and corruption in foreign accounts.  The deal will creates a platform for repatriating assets acquired through crime and graft.

This is likely to seal the fate of former Finance Minister Chris Okemo and former Kenya Power managing director Samuel Gichuru who for many more have been fighting their extradition to Jersey to face corruption and money-laundering charges.

The latest deal may also expedite recovery of monies lost through the Anglo Leasing scam.

The framework, which is in line with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, and signed by Attorney General Kihara Kariuki on Kenya’s behalf, provides the principles to guide the recovery of stolen assets.

FRACCK will be enhancing an existing agreement on repatriation of proceeds of graft.

Last year, then Attorney General Githu Muigai signed an agreement with the Swiss government to boost recovery of looted wealth stashed overseas.

Besides foreign accounts, Kenyan power brokers are believed to own housing estates and ranches in Brazil, South Africa, Argentina, New Zealand, England, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Australia.

Berset is today expected to tour Kakuma refugee camp and the Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement Scheme in Turkana county.

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