There's room for everyone in graft war

In Summary

• Transparent system that reveals how every shilling is spent goes a long way to reassure taxpayers


There has been a lot of press coverage recently of comments made by politicians and heads of entities investigating graft about mandates and responsibilities.

Let’s be clear, there is enough to do for everyone and then some. The most effective response to a never-ending stream of corruptions scams is for the investigative agencies, working in parallel with the intelligence and prosecutorial entities and supported by the private sector, to be comprehensive.

There will inevitably be strengths and weaknesses in any entity. However when looked at from an informed but independent perspective, there are complementary mandates.

The Financial Reporting Centre (FRC) has a hugely important job to play in being the early warning system and in guiding and monitoring financial institutions. It is still an embryonic entity but once suitably resourced and capable, it can become the bedrock on which a sophisticated and joined up process can be based.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the Asset Recovery Agency (ARA), an entity established to recover proceeds of crime and feed it back into state coffers for the public benefit.

Assets Recovery Agency Director Muthoni Kimani during an anti-money laundering and asset recovery workshop in Nairobi on February 4
SEEKING STOLEN WEALTH: Assets Recovery Agency Director Muthoni Kimani during an anti-money laundering and asset recovery workshop in Nairobi on February 4

Again, it is early days and there is a long road to travel, but ultimately the public will only start to be convinced that there is traction in combatting graft when they see the money being reinvested for the benefit of mwananchi.

How recovered funds are utilised is one of the areas that the government needs to examine carefully. A transparent system that publishes how every shilling is being utilised goes a long way to reassure the hard-working taxpayer.

In the middle we have the investigative agencies. The EACC and DCI have hard-working focused people who are doing their very best to fulfil their mandate, sometimes whilst between a rock and a hard place.

They need to be supported, domestically and by the international community. In many instances this is happening and, looking clinically at the results, we are seeing the traction.

Many investigations nowadays cross borders. With advancements in digital technology, we can move money from one country to another with the click of a phone, but for investigators to gather that transaction as evidence is a process that can take years.

As a common issue facing all jurisdictions, we need to collectively find ways that allow us to exchange evidence in a much more efficient way. The key to this is law enforcement cooperating on a day to day basis, something that is happening increasingly between Kenya and many other partner countries.

Finally, the Director of Public Prosecutions has the mandate to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute and additionally whether it is in the public interest to do so.

Subsequently, prosecutors have to prepare and present their cases in the theatre that is the courtroom. This is no easy task. The prosecutor needs to make often mundane material interesting and readily comprehensible, needs to guide witnesses through their testimony and be willing to protect them from aggressive cross-examination.

This can be a very tough job when there is evidence from many countries, often complicated and needing interpretation for the layman.

I am confident there is progress. I see it every day and the convictions that are coming speak for themselves. The drip has become a trickle, we all want to see that develop into a flow and eventually a torrent.

Let’s get behind those charged with leading this charge because ultimately they are our servants as the public.

Country head, International Centre for Asset Recovery