Every year, there are over a dozen cases in the news involving corruption charges against leaders across the African continent. The corrupt leaders involved in these cases seldom face justice, but assets and millions of dollars stashed in foreign bank accounts are often frozen.
Sadly, these assets and funds are never returned to their country of origin.
Of cause, there have been cases where funds were returned, but in sincerity, the amounts recovered are nothing compared to the actual amount of African originated funds lying in foreign banks and greasing international economies.
With regard to the embezzlement of funds by corrupt leaders from Africa, it is safe to say Switzerland is a long-time partner who has done more harm than good. It is surprising how the country helps to stash stolen funds of ridiculous amounts from African leaders without asking questions or informing anti-graft agencies.
Also, when these corrupt officials are exposed and the funds they stashed in Switzerland exposed, the foreign banks would release statements to say the accounts have been frozen.
What happens after that? Shouldn’t such monies be returned to its country of origin?
It’s been about a decade since funds embezzled in a Kenyan corruption scandal were frozen in Switzerland, and the money hasn’t moved. If the Kenyan authorities continue to dither, the case for giving it back may lapse. Switzerland could take independent action – but will it?
It seemed that a long, inglorious tale was drawing to a happy end when, in July 2018, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta welcomed his Swiss counterpart Alain Berset to Nairobi.
They signed an agreement that set the framework for the repatriation of corrupt money to the east African country.
Switzerland had frozen around CHF2 million ($2.02 million) originating from one of the most prominent corruption cases in Kenyan history – the so-called Anglo Leasing scandal.
In it, Kenya lost more than CHF600 million through systematic fraud. The money was funnelled to numerous shell companies, many of which had an address in Geneva.
Because part of the criminal money was laundered in Switzerland, or via the Swiss financial system, the Swiss Attorney General in 2009 opened a money-laundering investigation and froze the CHF2 million.
The money remains in Switzerland to this day. The Swiss Office of the Attorney General is waiting for a court decision in Kenya “ordering the confiscation of the assets in question,” according to a joint statement made to swissinfo.ch by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the State Secretariat for International Finance.
“Switzerland has done everything it can in the Anglo Leasing case,” Githongo says. “This is low-hanging fruit, but on our side, the will to pick it is lacking.”
But Fenner believes the Swiss authorities could do more.
“They are not dependent on a court decision in Kenya. The Office of the Attorney General opened a criminal investigation a long time ago. They could conclude their proceeding, seize the assets and return them to Kenya, she argues.
What are your thoughts?
Excerpts Courtesy: Markus Spoerndli
Header Image Credit: PBS