By Ebi Kesiena
Kenyans have begun reacting to the report of a Washington DC-based network of reporters and media organizations under the consortium of International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) who released financial documents that showed a linkage between world leaders and secret stores of wealth.
The documents showed information from 91 countries and featured 35 current and former national leaders, as well as 330 politicians.
Among the leaders named in the damning 2.94 terabyte expose known as the “Panama Papers,” is Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta.
The 59-year-old President had in the recent past been at the forefront of the fight against corruption.
However, the Panama Papers have shown that his family members have for years been hiding their personal fortune worth $30 million in tax havens.
The act of shielding their wealth from public scrutiny has in the past attracted protests from activists in Kenya.
According to Boniface Mwangi, a Kenyan socio-political activist, Kenya’s expected that his family wealth would prevent him from stealing and getting involved in shady deals.
“Kenyans assumed that because he came from the richest family in our country, that he would not steal or get involved in shady deals. But when a president has offshore accounts that is very shady, he is in the same class with drug dealers, money launderers, tax evaders, tax cheats and all manner of criminals,” he said.
President Uhuru Kenyatta was on a foreign visit to Ethiopia and expected to travel to the Caribbean next.
In a written statement issued from his office, Kenyatta said “my attention has been drawn to comments surrounding the Pandora Papers. Whilst I will respond comprehensively on my return from my State Visit to the Americas, let me say this:
“That these reports will go a long way in enhancing the financial transparency and openness that we require in Kenya and around the globe. The movement of illicit funds, proceeds of crime and corruption thrive in an environment of secrecy and darkness.
“The Pandora Papers and subsequent follow up audits will lift that veil of secrecy and darkness for those who cannot explain their assets or wealth.”