President William Ruto has ushered in a new era of legal reform in Kenya with the signing of two crucial bills, the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating of Terrorism Financing Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2023, and the Climate Change (Amendment) Bill.

These significant legislative changes promise to fortify the nation's efforts in combating financial crime and advancing climate change mitigation.

Anti-Money Laundering and Combating of Terrorism Financing Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2023

In a decisive move, President Ruto has officially enacted the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating of Terrorism Financing Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2023, recognizing its importance in addressing shortcomings that have hindered the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing within the country.

The new legislation ushers in several critical modifications.

One of the prominent features of this law is the provision for the surrendering of fugitive criminals who consent to be extradited to a requesting State, facilitating cross-border collaboration in crime prevention.

The Financial Reporting Centre has gained operational independence, being excluded from the definition of State Corporation, enabling it to function more efficiently in tracking financial irregularities.

Additionally, the Capital Markets Authority has been granted enhanced authority to ensure that its licensees strictly adhere to anti-money laundering and combating terrorism financing laws, thereby elevating financial sector compliance standards.

The Insurance Regulatory Authority has also received expanded powers in this regard.

Furthermore, the legislation harmonizes licensing procedures with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Standards, ensuring international alignment in combating financial crime.

The Central Bank of Kenya will play a supervisory role in overseeing financial institutions and agents of reporting institutions.

In a move demonstrating the government's commitment to combating corruption, the Bill includes the laundering of proceeds of corruption under the definition of "economic crime."

Climate Change (Amendment) Bill, 2023

Ruto also lent his signature to the Climate Change (Amendment) Bill (National Assembly Bill No. 42 of 2023), marking a significant stride in the nation's climate change initiatives.

The Bill, which had been published in July, amends the Climate Change Act of 2016.

This groundbreaking legislation introduces the regulation of carbon markets, a critical step in the battle against climate change.

Transactions in carbon trading will now fall under the purview of this law, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

It empowers the Cabinet Secretary to enter into bilateral or multilateral agreements to trade carbon for emission reductions and removals, subject to Cabinet approval.

The Climate Change (Amendment) Bill, 2023, bolsters Kenya's response to climate change, providing a legal framework to not only mitigate its impact but also explore innovative solutions through carbon trading.

President Ruto's endorsement of these bills reflects a commitment to bolstering Kenya's resilience against financial crime while embracing global efforts to combat climate change.

These legislative reforms are poised to make a substantial impact, ensuring a safer and more sustainable future for the nation.