By The Weekly Vision Team
Kenya’s senior civil servants are in panic mode after the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) raised a red flag over the operation of illegal foreign bank accounts. Article 76(2)(a) of the Constitution, as read together with Section 19 of the Leadership and Integrity Act and Regulation 14 of the Leadership and Integrity 2015, provides that a state officer shall not open or continue to operate a bank account outside Kenya without the approval of EACC.
Investigations reveal that several civil servants do operate foreign bank accounts and have failed to declare them. A source told The Weekly Vision that EACC has released a memo giving a deadline for the declaration of such accounts. However, the directive has not been complied with, forcing EACC boss Twalib Mbarak to write to the head of the public service, Felix Koskei, accusing state officers of failing to declare foreign bank accounts they operate.
According to Mr. Mbarak, it is a mandatory requirement, but most state officers have not complied with the law. He warned of dire consequences if they ignored the directive. However, it has been noticed that only officials working as diplomats on foreign missions have complied with the constitutional requirement.
“The Commission is concerned that compliance with the above mandatory requirements has, to a large extent, not been complied with by state and public officers, save for those in diplomatic missions abroad,” Mbarak said in the letter dated September 22, 2023. According to EACC, the requirement applies to all bank accounts outside Kenya opened by or controlled by a state or public officer, including for temporary purposes such as facilitation of travel, education, or medical treatment, whether for the officer or any other person, as long as it is the officer opening or controlling the bank account.
According to EACC, the account holder is required to submit annual bank account statements to EACC not later than January 31st of each succeeding year and, upon closure, to notify and furnish EACC with evidence of such closure within thirty days. The state officers who have failed to comply are liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, a fine not exceeding five million shillings, or both.
Sources say several state officers who operate such accounts and have failed to declare are panicking since EAC has the capacity and authority to trace such accounts and bring the owners to book.
Some are said to have decided to let go of such accounts plus the amounts held over the fear of declaring the source of such funds. It has been discovered that some state officers use such accounts to transact illegal business or to receive hefty kickbacks. With EACC now on their heels, such undeclared accounts shall be closed and funds therein forfeited to the state through the Assets Recovery Agency. They could also be declared proceeds of crime and money laundering.