Uasin Gishu Woman Representative Gladys Boss has gone on the offensive accusing President Uhuru Kenyatta of blurring the line between morality and legality over his link to offshore accounts as disclosed in the Pandora Papers leak.
Boss, a strong ally of Deputy President William Ruto, came out guns blazing saying President Kenyatta had discredited the office he holds by not leading from the front in the war against corruption.
According to Boss, the leaks contained in the Pandora Papers may not exactly show an illegality committed by the president, but it indicates an “immorality” on his part.
She stated that the Head of State should now declare what he owns, both abroad and in the country, the same way DP Ruto’s wealth was made public by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i in Parliament recently.
“President Kenyatta has constantly been clear that people should declare their wealth, he has been at the forefront saying that he wants to fight corruption. We have had the recent list of wealth owned by the deputy president set out by the minister of interior in Parliament, they went into great detail scrutinizing the DP’s wealth,” she said.
“And now the president has said that this is a new era for transparency. Now that we know what they own out there, we can now also have a discussion on what they own in here. It may not be illegal, but it is immoral, because if you’re leading a country, even if you have that money and it is legitimate, why not repatriate that money back into the country and therefore improve our economy?”
Boss further said: “You cannot be leading a country that is suffering economically, when you are taking your wealth out of the country, especially when a lot of the wealth was made within this country. So the immorality of it is significant, it is so urgent that even Parliament must adjourn and discuss this.”
Ugunja Member of Parliament Opiyo Wandayi and Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina however defended President Kenyatta from attacks over his family’s wealth allegedly stashed in offshore accounts as stated in the Pandora Papers expose.
According to Wandayi, who is also the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), it is not illegal to store one’s wealth abroad, more so when it could be reverted back to the country to aid in building the economy.
The MP also stated that the war on corruption will only bear fruit if started at the source within the country, not at offshore accounts which he described as the “tail end” of any trail.
“We have all along known that individuals, groups, companies, keep offshore accounts. It is not new, it is not going to stop soon, and it’s also important to point out that there’s nothing illegal about it, even though we know that in the past certain persons have used that avenue to siphon public funds. So far there’s no evidence that any of those accounts out there are illegal or are being used for any illegal activities,” he said.
“There’s even no evidence yet that those monies that are stashed out there are not generating profits which are brought into the country. More importantly, if you want to deal with corruption, you don’t deal with it at the tail end, you deal with it at the source.”
He further stated: “So you can’t say that because there are people who are stealing money and taking it outside the country, then everybody else should not take their money outside the country. Seal loopholes through which people would siphon out public funds at the source; but then again encourage people who want to engage in international business, people with money who want to invest across the world, allow them to do so as long as they do it in a legal manner.”
Senator ole Kina reiterated Wandayi’s comments, adding that President Kenyatta himself does not have an offshore account – as stated in the papers – but, rather, is only a beneficiary of accounts held by his mother, Mama Ngina Kenyatta.
He defended the President saying most of the offshore accounts in his family’s name were opened when he was still not the Head of State anyway, hence closing them down after he clinched the top seat would’ve been meaningless.
The lawmaker confessed to having an account in the United States himself during his 20-year stay there, adding that he is aware of many other prominent Kenyans who also have accounts in countries like the Mauritius doing legitimate businesses.
Senator ole Kina argued that unless legislation is passed by Parliament prohibiting State officers from holding offshore accounts in foreign countries, then the act would continue as it is not against the law, per se.
“I personally know a lot of Kenyans, including very prominent Kenyans, who have accounts in different countries, Mauritius is one of them; if you go to the registrar of companies in Mauritius, you’ll be shocked at how many Kenyans have registered their businesses there, others even hold businesses in this country but they’re registered in Mauritius,” he said.
“The Kenyatta family is known to have been in business for many years, and there’s no law that says you cannot be able to keep your money outside the country. If you were keeping your money outside before you became president, it doesn’t mean that when you become now president you go and bring all that money into the country.”
He added that: “If we now pass a law in Parliament that prohibits any leader from owning any properties abroad, then we could be talking about something completely different. But as it is, I want people to show me where it is illegal or immoral for any leader, not only the president, to own property abroad.”
The three leaders spoke during an interview on Citizen TV’s Day Break show on Tuesday morning.
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