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KRA official risks losing Sh597m over port bribes

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Economy

KRA official risks losing Sh597m over port bribes

Times Tower, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) head office
Times Tower, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) head office. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The anti-graft agency has launched a fresh bid to seize properties worth Sh597 million from a Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) official, maintaining they are linked to bribes paid at Mombasa port.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), in its appeal, says that the properties owned by Joseph Chege Gikonyo and his wife Lucy Kangai are proceeds of crime and should be forfeited to the government.

High Court Judge Hedwig Ong’udi in November 2018 lifted an order freezing the properties because another judge had ruled in a separate case that one of the properties the EACC was targeting was acquired legally.

The EACC argued that it was wrong for Justice Ong’udi to base her decision on another ruling and discharge Mr Gikonyo’s properties.

The anti-graft agency argues that Mr Gikonyo’s property empire in Mombasa, Kilifi, Nairobi and Murang’a is incongruent with his known income — a modest monthly salary of Sh100, 000.

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His day job involved valuations and document processing for goods imported through the Mombasa port.

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Importers usually hire clearing and forwarding firms to pay and obtain document clearance from the KRA.

EACC says that its detectives tracked down 20 clearing and forwarding agents who said that paying the KRA official to release their cargo had become a normal occurrence.

The clearing and forwarding agents allegedly admitted to having paid Mr Gikonyo Sh258.4 million to have their goods released.

Mr Gikonyo allegedly received Sh43.9 million through mobile money transfer and Sh214.4 million in cash.

Mr Gikonyo and his company Giche Ltd are said to have purchased and developed properties in high-end areas of Nairobi and Mombasa worth Sh355.8 million.

The properties include two plots in Nyali, Mombasa County, valued at Sh125 million, two parcels of land in Shanzu, also in Mombasa, valued at Sh26 million and a posh farm house in Kilifi town valued at Sh27 million.

Others are a Sh40 million house in Mombasa town, a parcel of land in Kwale valued at Sh2.5 million and another in Mtwapa valued at Sh2 million.

The list of Mr Gikonyo’s property in Nairobi includes 13 plots in Sosian estate valued at Sh75 million, several flats in Umoja Estate valued at Sh33.5 million, a house at Greenspan Estate valued at Sh12 million and a Sh9 million house in Vescon Estate.

Mr Gikonyo has also invested in Equity Bank, Safaricom, Kenya Reinsurance Corporation, KenGen and Madison Insurance.

The EACC in 2018 filed a recovery suit against Mr Gikonyo, Ms Stephen and Giche Ltd following two years of investigations.

But Mr Gikonyo and Giche Ltd filed an objection arguing that it had been proved in a different case, that one of his property was acquired lawfully.

Mr Gikonyo sold the property, which had three blocks of flats, to Mr Francis Irungu Thuita in 2018.

He said that he was in active farming before moving to real estate. He demonstrated cash deposits from farming activities and real estate.

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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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