Kenya seeks help to set up asset recovery unit
Posted Monday, June 25 2012 at 23:30
Githu seeks World Bank funding for agency that will go after hidden loot
The government has sought the World Bank’s support to set up an agency that will recover billions of shillings the country has lost through mega scandals.
Attorney-General Githu Muigai told the Bretton Woods institution that Kenya had performed poorly in its mission to recover funds stashed abroad by prominent personalities.
The country had turned to the West and international financial systems to recover the assets, Prof Muigai said in the letter dated June 15.
It is addressed to the bank’s country director, Mr Johannes Zutt, and copied to the Coordinator of Stolen Assets Recovery Initiative at the World Bank head office in Washington.
“Kenya has over the period of about four decades lost billions worth of dollars through illegal financial flows out of her borders. We have not been able to successfully recover stolen assets. We are looking to engage global partners in our quest to recover the said assets,” he says in the letter.
The move comes a week after the Nation disclosed that some Kenyans had Sh72 billion cached in Swiss banks. The Swiss authorities have handed the government a list of the accounts.
The files, mainly on the Anglo-Leasing and Goldenberg scandals, have been forwarded to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the police.
The Asset Recovery Agency, a semi-autonomous body to be based in the AG’s office, was established through the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2009.
In his letter, Prof Muigai submits that his office has been grappling with technical and financial obstacles in its bid to set up the agency.
“Whereas the office of the Attorney-General is desirous of getting the Asset Recovery Agency up and running, we are faced with technical and financial challenges,” he states.
The AG asked the World Bank also to assist in the recruitment and training of officers for the agency. He also wants the bank to play a key role in conducting continuous training and “mentoring” of staff.
He further requests the bank to use its international network and influence to convince countries such as Switzerland to provide information on stashed funds.