- State and public officials risk fines of up to Sh5 million, along with imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, as the EACC issues a stern warning on requirements for operating bank accounts outside of Kenya.
- Legal provisions outline that state officers are barred from opening or operating bank accounts outside Kenya without prior approval from EACC.
State and public officials risk facing substantial fines of up to Sh5 million, along with imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, as the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) issues a stern reminder regarding the requirements for operating bank accounts outside of Kenya.
In a communique dated September 22, 2023, addressed to various governmental bodies and officials, the EACC emphasized the legal obligations incumbent upon state and public officers, as outlined in the Leadership and Integrity Act (LIA), 2012.
EACC reminded State and public officers that operating a bank account outside Kenya without the approval of the Commission is an offence under Section 19(6) of the Leadership and Integrity Act, 2012 for which upon conviction, a State or public officer shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or a fine not exceeding five million shillings or both.
"State and public officers are hereby reminded that operating a bank account outside Kenya without the approval of the Commission is an offence under Section 19(6) of the Leadership and Integrity Act, 2012 for which upon conviction, a State or public officer shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or a fine not exceeding five million shillings or both," EACC said.
According to the commission, the Leadership and Integrity Act (LIA), enacted in 2012, empowers the EACC with the responsibility of overseeing and enforcing the provisions of the Act, particularly those related to the conduct of state officers and public officers.
In its letter, the EACC invoked Section 4(3) of the Act, which permits the Commission to call upon state organs to assist in enforcing Chapter Six of the Constitution and the LIA.
The core focus of the EACC's reminder is Article 76(2)(a) of the Kenyan Constitution, in conjunction with Section 19 of the LIA and Regulation 14 of the LIA Regulations, 2015.
These legal provisions state that state officers are prohibited from opening or operating bank accounts outside of Kenya without prior approval from the EACC.
Furthermore, they must annually submit their bank account statements to the Commission by no later than January 31, of each succeeding year.
"Subsequently, the account holder is required to submit annual bank account statements to EACC not later than 31st January of each succeeding year and upon closure to notify and furnish EACC with evidence of such closure within thirty days. In the event of account closure, officers are required to notify the EACC and provide evidence of the account's closure within thirty days," the commission said.
Importantly, the stipulations of Chapter Six and the LIA also extend to all public officers, treating them as if they were state officers, as per Article 80(c) of the Constitution and Section 52 of the LIA.
This means that the same requirements and consequences apply to both state and public officers regarding offshore bank accounts.
The EACC expressed deep concern that many state and public officers have not adhered to these mandatory requirements, with the exception of those serving in Diplomatic Missions abroad.
The requirements apply to any bank account outside Kenya that is opened or controlled by a State or public officer, regardless of the purpose of the account, be it for travel, education, medical expenses, or other personal reasons, as long as it is the officer who owns or controls the account.
"The requirements apply for all bank accounts outside Kenya opened by or controlled by a state or public officer, including for temporary purposes such as facilitation of travel, education or medical treatment; whether for the officer or any other person as long as it is the officer opening or controlling the bank account," EACC stated.
The EACC's reminder carries a clear warning to state and public officers that failure to comply with these regulations constitutes an offence under Section 19(6) of the Leadership and Integrity Act, 2012.