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January 20, 2019

Plundered resources must be frozen, confiscated and returned

A file photo of EACC headquarters in Nairobi.
A file photo of EACC headquarters in Nairobi.

We are seeing a much more serious attempt to tackle corruption.No one can dispute that at this moment. We now see a President walking the talk and making it clear that his fight will be part of his legacy.

This can be seen in his appointments of serious people making the war on corruption a reality. New Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji and Director of Criminal Investigation George Kinoti are working effectively and efficiently in investigations and arrests. Look at the cases in court today. They are much more detailed and solid than previous ones.

Investigative capacity is being built up not only in numbers but also skills, with the international community stepping in to help.

The next stage will be assets recovery, which is integral to fighting corruption. When you charge people, you need to freeze their assets. The international banking system, of which Kenya is part, makes it easy makes it easy to freeze all bank accounts simply on instructions from the Central Bank of Kenya.

Assets recovery legislation provides for recovery, meaning there's a law on the books. It's just a question of implementing it. But this can be a bit complex and it's not just about freezing bank accounts but about racking assets and other properties. This can be done through lifestyle audits to find out what assets suspects have, and where. This requires capacity-building of officials at the Assets Recovery Agency so it is able to execute this mandate fully and walk in tandem with its DCI and DPP counterparts. This requires a combination of efforts.

What is likely to happen as these cases progress is that part of the court judgements will require confiscation of assets, creating financial pain, which is actually part of getting back a lot of this money.

Therefore, we are likely to witness confiscation as far as assets recovery is concerned.

As for the recovered money, my personal view is that the recovered assets should go to the state or back to where it was plundered.

The economist spoke to the Star

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