25. November 2020

Kenya: USD 271 million in stolen assets recovered and a fast upward trend

Twalib Mbarak, EACC Chief Executive, meeting with officials. Photo: EACC
Twalib Mbarak, EACC Chief Executive, meeting with officials in 2019. Photo: EACC

Congratulations to the trailblazing Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) of Kenya, whose latest figures show recovered assets worth a total of KES 29.8 billion (over USD 271 million). KES 20.5 million of this, or around USD 187 million at current exchange rates, was collected in the last five years.

The haul of cash, land, property recovered from corrupt officials in the financial year 2019-2020 was KES 11.3 billion (nearly USD 103 million). This represents a nearly 300% increase over the previous year, continuing a fast upward trend.

Behind the success stories

Chief executive Twalib Mbarak’s bold strategic direction has shifted the anti-corruption agency’s focus to high-value, high-profile cases considered to be in the public interest.

Many of these cases relied on obtaining evidence from abroad through informal and formal cooperation, including a recent landmark victory against a former member of parliament and the mother of a former cabinet secretary.

International cooperation is often a sticking point in high-value asset recovery cases, as criminals tend to stash their stolen money in overseas bank accounts and shell companies. It is therefore a major focus of our Kenya-based International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR) team, which supports the EACC and Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions with legal and policy advice, training and mentoring on the complex financial investigations that are at the heart of corruption cases.

Twalib Mbarak commented:

“ICAR has been a key partner in the EACC’s successes and an integral part of our development as a regional leader in asset recovery.”

Driving innovation in the region

In 2018, Kenya worked with the governments of Jersey, Switzerland and the UK, with ICAR support, on the Framework for the Return of Assets from Corruption and Crime in Kenya (FRACCK). Labelled “novel” and “innovative” by UNODC, this agreement encourages transparency and accountability in the process of repatriating stolen assets to Kenya, as well as the use of the assets to advance sustainable development.

The country is also working to innovate legal processes, including speeding up court procedures and accepting witness evidence by video.

As the covid-19 pandemic broke out, Kenya’s EACC and ODPP presented the Treasury with 2 billion Kenyan shillings of recovered funds to support the emergency response. This shows that – as our partners across Africa, Latin America, Central Europe and Asia demonstrate time and again – while corruption kills, recovering stolen assets can save lives.

More information

ICAR’s long-term assistance programme with the EACC was funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office from 2013–2020 and is now supported by core ICAR donor funding. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) supports a technical assistance programme of the ODPP, with which the EACC works closely on high-level corruption cases.

Find out more about the work of ICAR around the world.