Kenya has been given a three-month ultimatum by the U.S to enact proper laws that will help in the fight against terrorism. Specifically, the U.S wants legislation that will make it harder for terrorists to get financing or do money laundering in the country. Washington believes that terrorists can easily raise money in the absence of these laws, which might be a reason for the persistent travel advisories against coming to Kenya.
Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo was speaking on Tuesday when he said that the Financial Action Task Force had placed Kenya on a blacklist of uncooperative entities. The Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) was established by a G-7 Summit that was held in Paris in 1989 in response to mounting concern over money laundering. The Task Force was given the responsibility of examining money laundering techniques and trends, reviewing the action which had already been taken at a national or international level, and setting out the measures that still needed to be taken to combat money laundering. In April 1990, the FATF issued a report containing a set of Forty Recommendations, which provide a comprehensive plan of action needed to fight against money laundering. In October 2001, after 9/11, the development of standards in the fight against terrorism financing was added to the mission of the FATF.
In 2000, FATF issued a list of "Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories" (NCCTs), commonly called the FATF Blacklist. This was a list of jurisdictions that, for one reason or another, FATF members believed were uncooperative with other jurisdictions in international efforts against money laundering (and, later, terrorism financing). Typically, this lack of cooperation manifested itself as an unwillingness or inability (frequently, a legal inability) to provide foreign law enforcement officials with information relating to bank account and brokerage records, and customer identification and beneficial owner information relating to such bank and brokerage accounts, shell company, and other financial vehicles commonly used in money laundering.
In the past, the effect of the FATF Blacklist has been significant, and it has proven to be important in international efforts against money laundering. While, under international law, the FATF Blacklist carried with it no formal sanction, in reality, a jurisdiction placed on the FATF Blacklist often found itself under intense financial pressure.
The Justice minister said that Kenya has been advised to
➢ Ensure that financing terrorism is a very illegal thing
➢ Establish a proper legal framework that will allow the identification and freezing of a terrorist's assets.
➢ Create more awareness within the various law enforcement agencies
➢ Implement sanctions on anyone not complying with the laws.
Mutula Kilonzo however said that laws like the Prevention of Organized Crime Act and the Proceeds of Crime and Anti Money Laundering Act were already in existence and that all that was needed was for them to be amended.
Last week, the US Department of Treasury Official in Charge of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, Mr Luke Bronin, was in the country to meet with various leaders including the Internal Security Minister George Saitoti, his counterpart in finance Njeru Githae and the Central Bank Governor Njuguna Ndung'u. It was Mr Bronin's opinion that Kenya needed to remove any loopholes with regards to terror financing and money laundering by putting in place proper legislation.