The National Assembly, recalled from its 7-week long holiday recess for a special sitting, on Tuesday approved the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Amendment Bill.
The bill provides that the Financial Reporting Centre (FRC) and the assets recovery authority can freeze suspicious accounts for five days as they conduct investigations on the source of money.
The bill that now awaits presidential assent seeks to put a stop on transactions of illicit funds in the country.
“I want to thank the members of this House who have risen to the challenge to cleanse this country of money laundering, wash wash, and being condemned to a pariah state…being put at the same level as Somalia in this region,” said National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya.
Nominated MP Jennifer Shamalla said: “We must remember that the key words here are ‘proceeds of crime’ and ‘anti-money laundering.’ It has become a national security risk for this country.”
Nonetheless, a section of MPs protested the move to empower FRC and assets and recovery authority to arbitrarily freeze individuals accounts on mere suspicion. Instead, an amendment to have a court order before freezing such accounts was defeated.
David ole Sankok said: “I know there are those who are comfortable now because they have the system and the deep state, but I’m telling you, this is very dangerous. And one day you’ll cry because of this law that we’re passing.”
“There are rights that have been given by the Constitution, and they cannot be denied through a statute. This bill is going to end up in court, so don’t allow people’s money to be frozen just because of suspicion,” said Suna East MP Junet Mohamed.
Homa Bay Woman Rep. Gladys Wanga, on her part, stated: “It’s just five days, after that if your money is okay it will just be there, it will go nowhere. But then, within those 5 days, if the money was supposed to be withdrawn for purposes of terrorism or others, we will have saved this country.
The bill now awaits presidential assent to become law as Kenya strives to net the flow of illicit cash in the country; some of the money suspected to be channeled towards criminal activities including terror while some said to be proceeds of graft.
The National Assembly equally approved the nomination of Anthony Mwaniki Muchiri as the Chairperson of the Public Service Commission (PSC) and Caroline Naikena and Thomas Okoth Oyier as members of the gender and equality commission.
The three await the president’s appointment to their positions.