EACC publishes rules governing opening of offshore accounts

Integrity Centre
Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission headquarters in Nairobi. PHOTO| COURTESY

Public or State officers who wish to have bank accounts outside Kenya will from now henceforth be required to satisfy a raft of conditions the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has published in the local dailies. Parliament approved these new grounds to open, operate and close off-shore bank accounts on the 11th of February 2016.  Failure to declare operation or control of a bank account outside the country is an offence that attracts a 5-year jail term or a 5 million shilling fine or both.

To begin with, an individual is required to fill in an application form available on the EACC website and submit it alongside the authority to verify account details, which will allow the anti-graft body to verify statements from the financial institution outside Kenya, where the bank account is held. Further, the individual is required to submit annual bank statements.

To get EACC’s approval, the state or public officer is required to demonstrate that the account is meant for educational or medical purposes for the benefit of the applicant, spouse, child or any other beneficiary or whether the account is for a public officer who works in a diplomatic mission abroad. The commission may, however, consider any other reasonable ground. 

An application to have an offshore bank account would be processed within six months. Should the commission decline the request, however, the applicant will be notified within 14 days, and will be required to apply to the commission for review within 21 days. 

In the event an applicant receives the green light but wishes to change the use of the account for an additional purpose other than that which the approval was given, a fresh application is mandatory, otherwise the account would be closed.

And just as one requests for approval to open and operate a bank account outside the country, they are also required to notify the commission in writing once they cease to operate the account within 30 days of closure of the account.

With these new regulations, EACC hopes to combat corruption but with the existence of tax havens in which dubious companies act as agents for individuals and other companies that need to conceal their identities, it remains to be seen whether EACC make a dent on such massive economic crimes that pillage the country’s public resources.

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Story By Sylvia Chebet
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