How Govt Freezes Money Hidden in Offshore Accounts

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    Over Ksh 37 billion fake currency seized on May 4, 2021.
  • The Assets Recovery Agency(ARA) has revealed that it has the ability to freeze and recover money hidden in offshore accounts owned by Kenyans.

    While in an interview on a local radio station on Thursday, January 20, ARA director, Col Alice Mate, stated that international conventions that led to the establishment of the agency have a framework for assets recovery agencies to work with one another.

    She stated that the conventions were formed to deal with cases of terrorism financing and transnational crime.

    File image of a court gavel
    File image of a court gavel

    In her explanation, she stated that being a member state of the conventions, they have the ability to work with similar bodies in other countries to have the accounts frozen.

    “As a state party to these conventions, we are supposed to come up with competent authorities. Kenya established the Assets Recovery Agency so as to deal with another competent authority in another jurisdiction,” she stated.

    Additionally, she stated that they rely on Financial Reporting Centers(FRC)during the process as the banks report to these institutions regarding their client transactions.

    “We have the Financial Reporting Center so that if it is money in a bank, the FRC has a counterpart in Belgium who we can speak to and we understand each other,” she stated.

    The director added that they do not immediately recover the assets as they have to go to court to prove their case. 

    However, during the process, the state is given powers to manage the properties before a determination is made by the courts.

    “During the court process, we manage these properties. So if it is an apartment we have an account where that money is remitted because it is not for the state at that time,” Mate stated.

    Most importantly, the ARA boss noted that intelligence plays a key role in the whole process as they often get information on suspicious bank accounts from people and other state institutions.

    The mandate of ARA was strengthened after the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Amendment Bill was passed by parliament in December 2021.

    The Bill proposed stiff penalties for money laundering and also required lawyers to disclose information they hold for their clients. 

    Members of Parliament in the National Assembly Chambers.
    Members of Parliament in the National Assembly Chambers.