Asset Management in Kenya

Over the past decade, Kenya has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to prioritizing asset recovery within its broader anti-corruption and anti-money laundering initiatives. Recognizing these efforts, the 2022 Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) Mutual Evaluation Report by the Eastern and Southern African Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG) commended the government’s strides in enhancing both institutional and legislative frameworks. The successes of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) in reclaiming assets acquired through crime and corruption were particularly acknowledged.

However, the report also pointed to notable challenges, particularly the absence of a dedicated central authority for managing seized and confiscated property assets.

CiFAR’s research paper, launched today, scrutinizes Kenya’s asset management landscape, focusing on the legal and institutional structures in place. Leveraging insights from our previous research, the analysis identifies persistent challenges in asset management across a) the freezing / seizure, and b) the final confiscation/disposal stages of asset recovery.

By drawing parallels with practices established by other jurisdictions in Africa, the paper conducts a comparative analysis, shedding light on key differences and deficiencies in Kenya’s approach. In the final section, the paper outlines opportunities for transparent and accountable asset management, concluding with recommendations to strengthen Kenya’s ability to effectively manage recovered assets and compensate victims of corruption and related crimes.

In doing so, this paper proposes several measures for improving asset management in Kenya:

  1. Authorities currently mandated with asset management should strengthen reporting systems, including increasing frequency and focusing on accessibility of information on seized and forfeited assets and how these assets have been utilised. They should publish this information openly and where applicable actively engage stakeholders to communicate this data. This includes establishing a central register or database for forfeited funds and properties to streamline and enhance asset management.
  2. Government should further develop the current framework for asset management both to ensure consistency in policies and procedures across agencies and to ensure that the lack of clarity around the pre-confiscation stage and on the management of physical assets are addressed.
  3. Government and parliament should strengthen existing mechanisms, including by operationalising the CARF and conducting ongoing assessments of its efficacy, with the aim of adjusting its framework as needed to correspond to operational needs.
  4. Government should address and plan for resource and capacity constraints that are likely to be present in asset management authorities, including through assessing staffing and funding gaps, and prioritizing training and development for effective asset management. They should learn from international examples around making asset management self-funding.
  5. Drawing inspiration from successful jurisdictions, government and asset management authorities should adopt best practice, foster collaborative approaches among agencies, and implement robust monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to ensure a harmonized, transparent, and accountable effort in asset management. Regular coordination meetings, information sharing, and performance reviews will enhance overall effectiveness and accountability.
  6. Government and parliament could also further consider how assets are managed at all stages of criminal and civil processes, in line with international best practice outlined above. This could include expanding the remit of the ARA beyond the CARF or designating or establishing a new body and considering the involvement of external expertise to manage complex or challenging assets.
  7. Government and parliament could also consider further questions around value-preservation and liquidation of assets, both pre- and post-confiscation. Particularly important to reflect on here would be questions of value-maximisation in converting physical assets to cash and the rights of persons whose assets have not yet been definitively confiscated.

Read the full paper here