Regional network to recover stolen assets
Eastern African countries have established a regional investigative network that will help trace people involved in cross-border illicit activities.
The five EAC partner states, joined by Djibouti, Ethiopia and South Sudan– all members of the East African Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities (EAACA)–launched the Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network for Eastern Africa (ARIN-EA) yesterday in Kigali.
It immediately commenced its operations.
During their annual meeting in Kigali, participants observed that regional economies had lost too much money through corrupt officials who swindle funds and invest it in foreign lands.
Participants said resources are channelled through national financial institutions by collaborating with foreign individuals to keep the money in foreign banks.
Member countries believe the new network will help curb the escalating phenomenal through exchange of information and conducting investigations.
According to the latest Global Financial Integrity report, EAC countries saw a combined $1.33 billion moved out of the region through illicit financial transactions over the past decade.
African continent was said to be losing $15 billion annually through illicit export of capital.
Dr John Mutonyi, an asset recovery expert and a consultant with Safemark Group, a Kenyan organisation that deals in security, risk and ethics management, told The New Times that forming the network is timely.
However, he said the body needs governments’ support and collaboration, saying where some culprits are shielded by governments, it becomes hard to trace them.
Meanwhile, during the meeting participants elected Kossy Bor, from Kenya, the president of the network, for a two-year rotational term.
The network will be operated under the EAACA Secretariat to be based in Kampala, Uganda.
Every country will have a focal point that will be coordinating and sharing information with others.
Aloysie Cyanzayire, Rwanda’s Ombudsman, said although illicit transaction was not common in the country, the new network could help investigate some people who might get involved.
“We want to find out if there are some cases of Rwandans who have stolen money and invested in foreign countries and we are optimistic that with the new network, we will succeed,” Cyanzayire said.
Contact email: eric.kabeera[at]newtimes.co.rw