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Athletics officials cleared of extortion charges

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Former senior Kenyan athletics official David Okeyo, who was last week banned from the sport for life for syphoning sponsorship funds, has been cleared of extorting money from athletes in exchange for lighter sentences in doping cases.

Okeyo, a former Secretary-General and Vice President of Athletics Kenya (AK) as well as a member of the IAAF Council, and Isaac Mwangi, former CEO of AK, were both cleared of extortion changes by an IAAF Ethics Board on Thursday in a 62-page judgement.

Despite the verdicts, however, the panel noted deep concerns about the evidence and the procedures and structures of the sport’s governing body in Kenya, the dominant force in distance running for decades, and said that extortion may well have taken place and recommended changes.

Last week Okeyo was banned and fined $50,000 after being found guilty of diverting thousands of dollars of Nike sponsorship payments for his personal use. He has denied any wrongdoing and said he plans to appeal.

Thursday’s Ethics Panel report concerned a separate issue, namely that he tried to extort money “to help” Kenyan athletes who had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, either by covering up their tests or for arranging lighter sentences, a charge he and Mwangi both denied.

The charges against Okeyo related to four athletes – Ronald Kipchumba, Peris Jepkorir, Viola Kimetto and Wilson Erupe. Mwangi was charged with trying to extort money from Erupe, Jepkorir, Joy Sakari and Koki Manunga.

Mwangi was suspended in February 2016 pending the hearing following reports that sprinter Sakari and hurdler Manunga said he had asked them for $24,000 to reduce the four-year bans they were given after testing positive in 2015.

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Following the investigation the Ethics Panel published its findings on Thursday, saying none of the allegations of extortion made against Okeyo or Mwangi, who they described as a witness who gave a positive impression, had been proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

However, the panel added: “We cannot conclude that the evidence Ms Sakari and Ms Koki Manunga gave was untrue nor can it conclude that Mr Mwangi was lying when he denied their allegations. The panel is thus left in the uncomfortable position of having heard contradictory evidence from witnesses that, in the main, it has found to be credible.

“In the case of … Mr Kipchumba … it considers there to be credible evidence to suggest that extortion may have taken place, even though ultimately the panel has concluded that the evidence does not meet the standard of proof required in terms of the rules of the Ethics Board.”

The panel added that the evidence raised enough concern to warrant the attention of both AK and the IAAF and urged them to take steps to ensure that appropriate procedures are in place to prevent extortion by officials and others involved in the processes that enforce the anti-doping rules.

The panel noted two particular concerns. “Firstly, given the power and authority of national athletics officials over athletes, there may be a risk that unscrupulous officials will seek to take improper advantage of athletes.

“Secondly that should this happen, it is difficult for athletes to seek to vindicate their rights because often athletes are persons of limited or moderate means and often they are considerably younger and less experienced than sports administrators.

“In the view of the panel, the development of policies and practices to prevent the abuse of athletes, including well-publicised whistle-blower procedures within the sport, should be an urgent priority for the IAAF and its member federations.”

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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