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Ex-Swiss diplomat cleared in Sh5bn Kenya graft case

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Jacques Pitteloud
Mr Jacques Pitteloud. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

A former Swiss diplomat at the centre of the Sh5 billion Anglo Leasing bribery claims has been cleared of wrongdoing and recalled to diplomatic service.

A Swiss court that investigated Jacques Pitteloud, following claims that he had asked for bribes from Anglo-Leasing suspects while serving as Swiss ambassador in Nairobi, has declared him innocent paving the way for his return to diplomatic service.

Mr Pitteloud’s troubles began after controversial businessman Deepak Kamani claimed that he had asked for a Sh5 billion bribe in order to influence the findings of a money laundering probe involving Swiss banks.

The Swiss Federal Criminal Court found in its decision published on December 20, 2018 that “nothing illegal had taken place.”

“The decision came just six days after Mr Pitteloud was named Swiss ambassador to Washington D.C.”

Mr Pitteloud, who served as Swiss ambassador in Nairobi (from 2010-2015), faced a police investigations in Switzerland leading to the Swiss court’s finding that the tone used by Mr Pitteloud in his dealings during the affair was “extremely insistent and not devoid of double-entendre”.

Mr Pitteloud, who worked as Switzerland’s Intelligence Co-ordinator between 2000 and 2006 before joining the Swiss Foreign Service, is expected to take up his post in Washington “as soon as US authorities grant his accreditation.”

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He had earlier claimed in an interview with the Business Daily that top Kenyan public officials knew about an alleged Sh5 billion settlement with one of the chief suspects of the Anglo Leasing scandal.

The cash, he said, was intended to be an official plea-bargain settlement with the controversial businessman.

Mr Pitteloud, said that senior officials in Kenya’s Attorney-General’s office and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) “knew everything” about the proposed Sh5 billion deal.

He claimed the settlement was agreed by the two states and presented to the controversial billionaire businessman as a proposed deal for the illegally acquired Anglo Leasing proceeds in lieu of his prosecution.

“Everybody in both legal systems, Kenya and Switzerland, were aware that we were aiming for a deal with the Kamanis and we offered them a deal, which they didn’t take.

“The offer was made on instruction from both Kenya and Switzerland authorities,” Mr Pitteloud said in August from Switzerland.

Mr Kamani, who is currently facing corruption charges in Kenya, is accused of working in concert with others to defraud the Kenyan government of billions of shillings through flawed security equipment supply contracts, commonly referred to as the Anglo Leasing scandal.

“EACC and the Attorney-General knew exactly what we were doing. They knew about the offer for a deal. If you are entering the phase of a very difficult court case and you know it will be a very long thing and it will cost a lot of money not only for the accused but also to the states that are prosecuting it’s fairly usual to go tell them, reimburse the money you have stolen we forget about the case and then justice will be done,” Mr Pitteloud said.

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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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