The Kenyatta family which has hugely dominated Kenyan politics from the onset of the country’s independence has been linked to secret offshore companies for decades, according to leaked financial documents dubbed ‘Pandora Papers’.
Pandora Papers is an investigative dossier containing 12 million files that expose the secret wealth and corrupt dealings of world leaders and billionaires, the files expose how wealthy figures have used offshore accounts to protect their assets family fortunes.
The information was collected by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in Washington DC and other news outlets, and was published earlier on Sunday has been considered the biggest leak in history.
Seven members of the Kenyatta family, including the current president Uhuru Kenyatta, have been linked to at least 13 offshore companies with vast wealth.
Kenyatta family’s offshore investments, including a company with stocks and bonds amounting 300 million Kenyan Shillings (equivalent $30m), were revealed in over a hundred thousand page dossier from the archives of 14 law firms and service providers in Panama and the British Virgin Islands.
According to the latest dossier, a foundation called Varies was created back in 2003 in Panama, setting Ngina Kenyatta, Uhuru Kenyatta’s mother as the first benefactor followed by Uhuru Kenyatta as the second benefactor after the death of her mother.
Panama has always been a safe haven for elites to secretly store up their wealth without being traced easily, this is because most of the assets’ owners are only known by their lawyers, who don’t even have to register their legal names with the Panamanian authorities.
The exact purpose of the foundation and value of its assets are unknown. The foundation’s assets can also be transferred to the next of kin without any tax deducted.
The Kenyatta family’s wealth derives from a variety of investments in infrastructure, media, real estate, insurance and hotels within Kenya and East Africa.
Back in 2018, Uhuru Kenyatta stated that his family’s wealth was known to the public.
“As I have always stated, what we own – what we have – is open to the public. As a public servant I’m supposed to make my wealth known and we declare every year,” stated Uhuru Kenyatta. “If there’s an instance where somebody can say that what we have done or obtained has not been legitimate, say so – we are ready to face any court”.
President Kenyatta had earlier promised to fight corruption as part of his agendas as president and he even set up a committee to help him execute his plan for transparency.
Kenya’s president is one of the many world leaders listed in the Pandora Papers’ publication on secret offshore wealth ties. Some other leaders include the King of Jordan Abdullah II, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Gabon’s President Ali Bongo Ondimba and President of Congo-Brazzaville Denis Sassou-Nguesso.
Kenya’s second president, the late Daniel Arap Moi, has been a very close ally of the Kenyatta family and had since paved the way for Uhuru Kenyatta to rise to power. According to a 2014 report by the international risk consultancy, Kroll, Moi had moved a huge amount of money out of the country.
Kenyatta family a.k.a Client 13173
Uhuru Kenyatta’s family established a vast amount of wealth immediately after Mzee Jomo Kenyatta came to power as the first president of Kenya back in the 1960s. The family and its allies have since been accused of grabbing land and amassing wealth in different parts of Kenya.
When Mzee Jomo Kenyatta died in 1978, his wife, Ngina Kenyatta, played a very significant role in expanding and safeguarding the family’s wealth and interests. Back in 1999, Ngina Kenyatta and her two daughters, Kristina and Anna, created an offshore company called Milrun International Limited in the British Virgin Island.
This incorporation move came after the advice of professional international wealth experts from the Swiss bank Union Bancaire Privée, which went on to recruit Alcogal, a Panamanian law firm which works on administering offshore and shell companies.
A series of leaked invoices from Alcogal to the Swiss bank show that the Swiss advisers referred to the Kenyattas with the code “client 13173”. The firm also provided essentials for running the family’s secret network, including a registered office for Milrun International Limited followed by infrastructure and staff.
The network was so enshrouded in such a way that it could not be traced back to the original owners of the offshore companies.
The firm allowed the Kenyatta family to buy an apartment in central London, UK, currently worth 130 million Kenyan Shillings (equivalent $1.3m). According to the UK Land Registry filings, the family still owns this apartment up to date.
British Labour MP, Emma Ann Hardy, who had recently rent the luxurious apartment found herself in the middle of the scandal.
According to her statement from her spokesperson, Ms Hardy had “absolutely no knowledge” of the owner of the luxurious apartment.
“She is shocked at what this investigation has uncovered, and believes it shows why more transparency is urgently needed,” the statement said.
This is one of the many schemes that the Kenyatta family has used to acquire and store up wealth in foreign countries while maintaining an innocent public face.
Read the full report right here at the ICIJ.