The last few days have seen intense debates over Pandora papers expose which shows powerful world leaders operating accounts offshore.
Among those mentioned were President Uhuru Kenyatta’s larger family said to have billions of shillings abroad.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) investigative report which also involved about 600 reporters from 150 media outlets and 117 countries and which has been dubbed as the world’s largest ever journalistic cooperation did expose how the rich and mighty in the world have stashed billions of shillings in offshore accounts.
According to the expose by the ICIJ, the leaked records had listed President Uhur Kenyatta together with his mother former first lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta as beneficiaries of a secretive foundation in panama. We also need to remember that despite the explosive revelation, the Pandora papers did not show evidence that the wealth was acquired illegally.
Many Kenyans were not shocked to learn that the President’s family had stashed billions of shillings oversees, after all Kenya’s first family have been known to be among the richest in the country, never the less the latest report has caused worry and unanswered questions as to why the first family had decided to stash billions of money in secrete accounts instead of keeping them in the country for example.
“Tunajua familia ya Kenyatta ina doo mob kuanzia kitambo, hiyo haitushangazi anymore..ile inashangaza ni eti wanaficha pesa uko majuu kwa accounts hazijulikani, ingekuwa fiti wangebank hapa Kenya ndio tupate doo, unajua mavijana wengi hawana job Kenya, It’s not surprising that the President’s family have lots of money, we are used to it since time in memorial. What is surprising however is that they are stashing billions of shillings in secrete accounts. Most Kenyan youths are unemployed, so I think it would have been prudent for the monies to be banked in Kenya so as to generate income for the youths,” Ken Wawira a youth from Ngara stated.
The 2010 constitution bars a state officer to have offshore bank accounts but there is an exception where state officers can only do so with permission of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption commission EACC but it’s unknown if President Kenyatta followed the laid down procedure.
Last week on 6th of October in an interview with several Kallenjin Radio stations, ODM leader Raila Odinga came out to defend President Uhuru Kenyatta over the expose that showed in detail President Kenyatta’s larger family had offshore accounts running into billions of shillings, in fact the ODM leader said there was nothing sinister to operate such accounts as long as there were not proceeds of crime.
“Sioni kama kuna shida kuwa na account nje kwa hii mambo ya Pandora box, bora useme jinsi ulifungua. There is no problem in someone wanting to open an offshore account as long they follow laid down procedures,” Odinga said.
Immediately the expose was aired, President Uhuru Kenyatta was quick to give a response that linked his family with 13 secrete offshore accounts. In a statement sent by statehouse spokesperson Kanze Dena, the President said he would respond comprehensively when he returns from his state visit in Barbados.
“The Pandora papers and subsequent follow up audits will lift that veil of secrecy and darkness for those who cannot explain their assets or wealth,” the President said.
There are those who say having monies in offshore accounts is not illegal, but how about the secrecy of it? Why the secrecy? I mean in this whole offshore accounts business one has to sweat before he/she can find the owners of such accounts. It’s not a straight forward process. Something that crosses my mind too in this whole Pandora saga is if political elites are stashing their monies outside their countries what does it tell you about that country? Does it mean they don’t trust their own financial institutions and their leadership passé? I would also like to know where those monies came from for example are they illegal monies? Those are the questions that pop in my mind whenever I do a report on the Pandora papers expose and to which President Uhuru Kenyatta has promised will be able to give a detailed response.
Our history of offshore accounts in this country hasn’t been a positive one, a case in scenario being the then finance minister Chris Okemo and former Kenya power boss Samuel Gichuru case.
It is alleged that they did defraud millions of shillings from Kenya Power Company and hid proceeds in offshore accounts in the United Kingdom. The theft allegedly was executed between 1998 and 2002.
In conclusion let me take this opportunity to thank my Colleagues who undertook such a heavy and not so easy task. You did put your lives in danger but for a better cause. Asanteni sana!
VIDEO OF THE DAY; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brBc-pIgLPg
BY WEMA TOYWA #WEMA’STAKE