The Kenyan government has moved to close loopholes in money laundering syndicates that have focused on loan sharks and gamblers among others using bundles of dirty cash and suspicious transactions in casino high-limit cash cages.
A Joint Money Laundering Intelligence Taskforce has been set-up in partnership with the financial sector to combat high end money laundering in three sectors including Casinos, land and luxury vehicle transactions.
The team gazetted on Friday by Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich brings together 30 State agencies from the security apparatus, the Judiciary, as well as banks, Saccos, real estate and gaming regulators.
The taskforce chaired by the Treasury is expected to craft Kenya’s first ever national strategy on combating money laundering and terrorism financing by March 31 next year.
The task force will be co-ordinated State’s anti-money laundering watchdog , Financial Reporting Centre (FRC).
“Kenya has never done a risk assessment (on money laundering). Once we do a risk assessment we are able then to put more resources in the areas where the highest risk would be identified,” said Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) director Muthoni Kimani. “We know (the risk areas), but we have to document them.”
ARA is one of the agencies that will form the anti-money laundering taskforce.
The Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) director, Liti Wambua, welcomed the inclusion of the betting regulator into the taskforce, saying the agency supported enhanced measures to ensure the betting industry was not used as a conduit for money laundering.
Vehicle dealers, real estate developers and law firms have for long been cited as the conduits used for laundering dirty cash into the economy.
Five banks found complicit in facilitating dubious National Youth Services (NYS) transactions were fined a cumulative Sh393 million by the CBK late last year.
“It’s for the benefit of the country so that those who are getting money from the wrong channels are not free to do anything they want. There has to be some form of controls and traceability,” said the Secretary-General of Kenya Auto Bazaar Association, Mr Charles Munyori.
Other sectors targeted for risk assessment by the taskforce include forex bureaus, money remittance outlets, fund managers, hotels and restaurants as well as mineral dealers.