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CAK offers amnesty to self-confessed cartels

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Regulator offers amnesty for firms in war on cartels

 Francis Wang’ombe
Competition Authority of Kenya Director General, Francis Wang’ombe. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) is offering penalty waivers to firms that self-report cartel behaviour to the agency and provide evidence against other members.

The offer is contained in the regulator’s new leniency programme, which is offering full or partial immunity to entities engaging in restrictive trade practices, cartel-like behaviour and abuse of dominance. Through the programme, the authority is seeking a different approach to root out collusion across various sectors of the economy.

Companies willing to work with the authority are expected “to provide direct evidence and pro-actively cooperate in bringing successful enforcement action in return of full or partial immunity”, says CAK.

The move is expected to catch restrictive business malpractices such as price-fixing and collusion in tendering. Firms that report themselves to the authority will escape punitive fines and other sanctions.

Usually, companies found culpable can be fined up to 10 percent of gross annual sales for the preceding year and their top officials face a five-year imprisonment.

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“As a director of the business involved in cartel-like conduct, you can be jailed for up to five years upon conviction, fined a maximum of Sh10 million, or both,” says CAK.

The first entity to self-report will be granted 100 percent reduction in penalties while the second applicant may be granted up to 50 percent. The third applicant will qualify for up to 30 percent reduction in penalties. Subsequent applicants will get up to a 20 percent reduction.

The watchdog has, however, set strict rules about how firms can be granted amnesty. To benefit from the leniency programme, an entity must be the first in its sector to inform the authority of the undetected cartel.

The applicant must then fully cooperate with the authority by surrendering all evidence in its possession and stop the infringement immediately. Such an entity will also have to desist from divulging details of the investigation to third parties. A breach on any of these pre-conditions will lead to revocation of the amnesty.

Restrictive trade practices are punishable by law since they limit access to competitive markets, constrain business operations and slow down productivity. Consumers are also denied choice, quality and innovative products and services.

CAK’s annual report indicated that the advertising sector topped the number of restrictive trade investigations by the regulator in the last year.

Research by the authority shows that eliminating restrictive trade practices would grow the economy by between 3 and 13 percent over seven years.

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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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