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KACC wants wealth data made public

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 9 – The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) wants the government to make wealth declarations by State officials public, as part of its commitment in fighting corruption.

KACC Director Patrick Lumumba said on Wednesday that making it mandatory for public servants to declare their wealth would help control abuse of power and looting of government resources.

He argued that it made no sense for public servants to declare their wealth, and then keep the information under lock and key.

"I have looked at the wealth declaration forms in Uganda for example, and they are very detailed. One of the things that we are now working on, is to improve the quality of wealth declaration forms and that will require the Company\’s Act to be amended," he said.

Speaking in Nairobi during a breakfast meeting with editors, Mr Lumumba said they would also appeal a ruling by Justice Kalpana Rawal that declared it unconstitutional to compel a public official to declare his source of wealth.

"When you read the ruling you are amazed that almost three-quarters (of the court outcome) supports our argument. We were able to demonstrate that this particular individual had a net income of no more that Sh180,000," he explained."When we raided his residence, he had about Sh3million in cash. He has an account that has about Sh40 million."

In the case, the KACC had wanted an official of the National Water Conservation and Pipeline Corporation to show the source of his wealth.

Mr Lumumba stated that the ruling would reverse gains made in the fight against corruption.

"We established all this on the basis of evidence, and then the judge says it is unconstitutional to require the person to explain the source of his wealth. People from Sierra Leone and Nigeria were amazed at that ruling," he said in reference to views expressed at a meeting he was attending abroad.

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He called on Kenyans to be patient as the commission takes action against corrupt individuals.

Prof Lumumba said that the evidence-taking and verification process takes time before claims can be deemed credible to be used in a court of law.

He pointed out that the commission has to go through a number of challenges before it can unearth corrupt individuals.

"The corrupt are very wily. The white collar criminal does not steal in the open. He or she does it under the cover of darkness. When they want to steal they book a room in a five star hotel and when they go there, they even send experts in IT to sweep the room for bugs,"

He however expressed confidence that the war in corruption can be won in Kenya.

On the vetting of judges, Prof Lumumba stated that judicial officers should be vetted thoroughly as outlined in the new constitution before they are allowed to hold office.

The anti-graft czar said they needed to declare their wealth and give proof of their competency.

He stated that this will ensure that only credible judges are appointed.

"The chief Justice is just the head of the arrow. I am very worried about the magistrate in Lodwar or Modogashe and that is why the Bills that are now in Parliament about vetting are very important,"  he said.

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He further underscored the need for Parliament to hasten the vetting of judges Bill.

"Vetting should entail declaration of wealth so that we are able to know how you have acquired the wealth," he stated.

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