Penalties for Defacing Kenyan Currency

  • Photo collage between a photoshopped photo of George Wajackoyah appearing on old 50 shilling note and specimen of Kenyan notes
    Photo collage between a photoshopped photo of George Wajackoyah appearing on old 50 shilling note and specimen of Kenyan notes
    File
  • A recently photoshopped image of Roots Party presidential candidate, George Wajackoyah, on an old Ksh50 note has been making rounds on social media, generating excitement among youthful Kenyans.

    The image had all features including Wajackoyah's face and imprints aligning with his manifesto and a sign of a Marijuana plant printed on the front part of the currency resembling the old Ksh50 note.

    According to rules by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), making a coin or note that tends to resemble any Kenyan currency is punishable by law.

    The CBK rules state that defacing any currency attracts a fine of up to Ksh2,000. The law only applies to hard currency but CBK has not yet released punishments for digitally editing an image of a currency as applied in Wajackoyah's case.

    File image of Kenyan bank notes
    File image of Kenyan bank notes
    File

    "Any person who willfully and without authority or excuse defaces, tears, cuts or otherwise mutilates any currency note shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to a fine not exceeding two thousand shillings or to both," CBK states.

    Other than defacing Kenyan currency, handling it in a manner that portrays it as being diminished is considered guilty of a felony that attracts an imprisonment term of seven years.

    "Any person who deals with any coin in such a manner as to diminish its weight with intent that when so dealt with it may pass as coin is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for seven years," CBK stipulates.

    Writing on a hard currency as done to the Ksh50 note to portray Wajackoyah is also punishable by law.

    "Any person who melts down, breaks up, defaces by stamping thereon any name, word or mark, or uses otherwise than as currency any coin current for the time being in Kenya is guilty of a misdemeanor and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding eight thousand shillings or to imprisonment for six months or to both." 

    According to CBK, uttering a fake currency with clear proof that indeed it is fake and is within a person's possession is considered a felony. Uttering in this case refers to when a person offers a genuine forged instrument with the intent to defraud as defined by Cornell Law School.

    "Any person who – (a) utters any counterfeit coin knowing it to be counterfeit, and at the time of such uttering has in his possession any other counterfeit coin, or (b) utters any counterfeit coin knowing it to be counterfeit, and either on the same day or on any of the ten days next ensuing utters any other counterfeit coin knowing it to be counterfeit; or (c) receives, obtains or has in his possession any counterfeit coin knowing it to be counterfeit, with intent to utter it, is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for three years."

    The law also applies to those caught with counterfeit currencies even when leaving the country.

    "Any person who, without lawful authority or excuse, the proof of which lies on him, exports or puts on board of a vessel or vehicle of any kind for the purpose of being exported any counterfeit coin whatever, knowing it to be counterfeit, is guilty of a misdemeanor."

    The Central Bank of Kenya (Currency Handling) Regulations, 2010 was published on 16th July 2010 under the Legal Notice Number 124 of the Kenya Gazette Supplement. These set of regulations were written embracing the use of modern technology to transport currency as well as legalising the defacement of currency to specific parties. 

    The regulations also prohibit the use of currency images for promotional purposes or otherwise other than as currency without prior approval of CBK.

    The CBK rules extend to even burning of the currency and intentionally minting counterfeit money.

    "Any person who makes or begins to make any counterfeit coin is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for life."

    Kenyan Currency notes.
    Kenyan currency notes.
    File