Millions of pounds allegedly laundered through Jersey by corrupt Kenyan officials are finally set to make their way back to the country to buy oxygen generators, ambulances and hospital beds to help in the fight against covid.
Today, Jersey’s Attorney General signed an agreement with the Government of the Republic of Kenya to release £3m confiscated by island authorities in 2016 following the successful conviction of Windward Trading Ltd for money laundering offences.
The corrupt activities took place in Kenya where Windward's beneficial owner, Samuel Gichuru, was resident.
During the period of indictment, Mr Gichuru was also the Chief Executive the Kenyan Government's electricity utility company; Kenya Power and Lighting Company.
Mr Gichuru and Kenya’s former Finance Minister Chris Okemo are accused of accepting bribes from foreign businesses that contracted with the electricity provider and concealing the money using Windward.
Pictured: Windward pleaded guilty to money laundering in Jersey's Royal Court five years ago.
In 2011, island authorities issued warrants for their arrest, but efforts to extradite them remain ongoing.
The Jersey-Kenya Asset Recovery Agreement signed today is of international importance as it marks the first return under what is known as the ‘Framework for the Return of Assets from Corruption and Crime in Kenya’ (FRACCK).
FRACCK is an initiative led by the Government of Kenya which aims to seize the proceeds of corruption held overseas and repatriate them to Kenya to support development projects in a way that highlights “the opportunity costs of corrupt use of public funds.”
It was signed by External Relations Minister Senator Ian Gorst during a visit to Kenya in July 2018. The UK and Switzerland are also signatories.
There had previously been calls for the seized money to be used on energy projects or getting more Kenyans to the polls when it is eventually returned, but in July 2020 it was decided that the £3m should go towards fighting covid.
Jersey Overseas Aid selected two organisations to split the funds between.
90% will go towards Crown Agents who will provide life-saving medical equipment, including oxygen generators and ambulances.
CEO Fergus Drake added that the team would also “assist with training and capacity building, so this equipment can be put to its best use” and “deliver a rigorous monitoring regime that ensures this equipment will save as many lives as possible in Kenya as it responds to the covid-19 pandemic.”
The other 10% will support a community-based project with Amref Health Africa.
Pictured: The money should directly benefit those seriously ill with covid.
“The funds will go towards sustaining the gains on the covid-19 response and in engaging communities to increase demand for the vaccine and to ensure that every at risk and vulnerable persons gets the vaccine in a timely manner,” explained Director Martin Muchangi.
“We will enhance capacity of our health workers to remain safe while providing optimum critical care especially in the use of medical oxygen, an essential commodity in the management of critical covid-19 cases.”
Kenya High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Amb. Manoah Esipisu, who also signed the agreement today, said that the funds will “go a long way in hastening the realisation of Universal Health care programme, which is one of the flagship areas… of the current Kenyan Government.”
Today’s signing comes five years after Jersey signed a preliminary Asset Sharing Agreement with the Government of Kenya.
Jersey and Kenya have signed a historic Asset Recovery Agreement in London today which will facilitate the return of £3 million to support Kenya’s Government in their ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.— Government of Jersey (@GovJersey) March 28, 2022
More info: https://t.co/3IdxbHWc8L pic.twitter.com/dAIdRij8DN
Speaking after today’s signing, Attorney General Mark Temple QC commented: “Corruption is not a victimless crime. It has both direct and indirect consequences for people living in countries where corrupt practices have taken place.
“The signing of this agreement today shows that Jersey does not tolerate financial crime and that our officers will confiscate monies associated with corruption and ensure that such funds are returned for the benefit of the people who have suffered from the effects of corruption.”
Senator Gorst said that finalising the return of the assets today was the “culmination of years of hard work and cooperation” and put Jersey “at the forefront of emerging international best practice in the field of asset recovery.”
Kenya’s Head of Public Service, Dr. Joseph Kinyua, said it “illustrates how foreign parties can come together to agree upon good practices and approaches for the return of stolen assets and their use to advance sustainable development and benefit citizens” and called upon “like-minded Governments with shared aspirations, commitment and deliberate efforts in this pursuit, to join the Framework Agreement.”
Pictured top: A TV report about the two men at the heart of the case.
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