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EACC goes after state officials with offshore accounts

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) warns state officials against operating offshore bank accounts without approval from the commission. 

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission has cautioned state officers against operating offshore bank accounts in a move geared at preventing stashing proceeds of corruption in foreign bank accounts.

State officers were informed by EACC Chief Executive Twalib Mbarak in a letter copied to Head of Public Service Felix Koskei and all Principal Secretaries that they risk a Ksh5 million fine, a five-year prison sentence, or both.

The EACC noted that diplomats serving in foreign missions are the only category of state officers free from this directive.

“The Commission is concerned that compliance with the above mandatory requirements has, to a large extent, not been complied with by State and Public officers, save for those serving in the Diplomatic Missions abroad,” read the letter in part. 

EACC noted that the requirement applies to all bank accounts outside Kenya opened by or controlled by a state officer including for temporary purposes such as facilitation of travel, education, or medical treatment.

The commission reiterated the stance that a state officer operating an offshore bank account requires approval from the commission.

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State officers are required to submit annual bank statements to the commission not later than January 31 of the preceding year.

”Article 76(2)(a) of the Constitution as read together with Section 19 of LIA and Regulation 14 of the LIA Regulations, 2015 provide that a State officer shall not open or continue to operate a bank account outside Kenya without the approval of EACC,” the statement read.

EACC further outlined the procedure and provided links where the automated process of declaring offshore accounts can be done.

This comes even as Kenyans and anti-graft watchdogs continue to express concerns over public officials stashing funds looted from Kenyan coffers in tax havens.

The State of Tax Justice 2020 report released by Tax Justice Network and Global Alliance for Tax Justice showed that wealthy Kenyans were hiding Ksh457 billion in offshore accounts, denying the country Ksh6.9 billion in tax revenue.

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