Ruto sets up team to review 'dirty cash' laws

Taskforce to report to Treasury on new illicit cash trends, review set of anti-money laundering laws

In Summary

•Kenya Kwanza has been mulling an increment of the bank transaction limits from the current Sh1 million.

•A number of the coalition's members were also unhappy with the law which included lawyers as disclosing institutions.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndungu
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndungu

President William Ruto has formed a task force to among other things review anti-money laundering laws. 

The task force on Anti-Money Laundering, Counter-Financing of Terrorism and the Financing of Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (NTF) will be chaired by the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung'u.

“The task force shall review existing policies, strategies and legislations and make appropriate recommendations to the Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury and Economic Planning on combating money laundering, the financing of terrorism, and proliferation financing,” a public notice on the team’s formation reads.

Other members are the Financial Reporting Centre, which would serve as the secretariat and hence secretary to the team as well as the office of the Attorney-General and the Department of Justice.

The state department for Internal Security and National Administration is also a member, alongside the state department for Foreign Affairs and that of Immigration and Citizen Services.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Directorate of Criminal Investigations, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, the Assets Recovery Agency, the National Intelligence Service, and the National Counter Terrorism Centre also form part of the team.

Representatives of the Kenya Revenue Authority, Central Bank of Kenya, Capital Markets Authority and Insurance Regulatory Authority are also in the team.

The team will also be required to monitor the implementation of the existing national strategy on anti-money laundering, counterterrorism financing, and proliferation of arms.

“The task force shall make the appropriate policy recommendations to relevant government agencies on combating money laundering, the financing of terrorism, and proliferation financing,” the notice by Prof Njuguna Ndung’u reads.

It will also undertake research and liaise with the relevant government ministries, departments, agencies, commissions, and independent offices to gather information relevant to combating crimes fueled by illicit money.

The team is also mandated to advise the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary on emerging illicit money issues and support the government in developing anti-money laundering policies.

“The task force shall have the power to review policies, legislations or any document related to the task force mandate,” the notice adds, further indicating that the team would submit an annual report of its activities.

Right after assuming office, Kenya Kwanza started mulling an increment of the bank transaction limits that require disclosure to Sh10 million from the current Sh1 million.

The matter was canvassed at length during the party’s parliamentary group meeting in Naivasha in the nascent days of the current administration.

In his inauguration speech, Ruto reported concerns of traders who have complained about “the onerous burden involved in cash transactions exceeding Sh1 million”.

He said many have reverted to storing money under their mattresses at great risk, which is clearly not the intention of the anti-money laundering regulations.

Kenya Kwanza feels that the anti-money laundering rules instituted during the Uhuru regime are prohibitive, further questioning why they are not strictly applied in European countries where the rich, including Kenyans, make large deposits.

“While we remain fully committed to mitigating this risk, we believe that there is scope to make compliance less burdensome on genuine business transactions,” Ruto said.

However sone quarters saw the move as an attempt to claw back on the milestones achieved in the fight against money laundering and proceeds of crime

Ahead of his exit, ex-President Uhuru Kenyatta assented to the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering (Amendment) Act, 2021, which among others required lawyers to disclose suspect sources of cash held on behalf of their clients.

The law applies to advocates, notaries and other independent legal professionals who are sole practitioners, partners or employees within professional firms, insurance underwriters and insurance intermediaries including agents and brokers.


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