Unmasking the Kenyatta family and the Origin of Client 13173 in the Pandora Papers
Albanas Kiswili
2 months ago

President Uhuru Kenyatta's family has found itself on the receiving end from Kenyans after being linked with 13 offshore law companies.

The family headed by Mama Ngina Kenyatta and four other members including President Uhuru Kenyatta is allegedly said to own a network of offshore companies for decades nows. The report is according to records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and shared with more than 600 reporters and media organizations around the world.

The Kenyattas' offshore investments, including a company with stocks and bonds worth $30m (Ksh3.3billion) were discovered among hundreds of thousands of pages of administrative paperwork from the archives of 14 law firms and service providers in Panama and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and other tax havens.

President Kenyatta and his mother Mama Ngina Kenyatta have been listed as beneficiaries of a secretive foundation in Panama. Folllowing the investigations ICIJ has said that  "Kenyatta and his family did not reply to requests for comment."

However, the investigations have revealed that the investments runs deep before President Uhuru Kenyatta was elected the president. According to the ICIJ, Mama Ngina Kenyatta and her daughters (Christina and Anna) were in 1999 advised by experienced international wealth experts from the Swiss bank Union Bancaire Privée (UBP), which recruited Alcogal, a Panamanian law firm specialising in setting up and administering the offshore companies.

The consortium says invoices from Alcogal to the bank show that the Swiss advisers referred to the Kenyattas with the code "client 13173".

Furthermore, documents show that a foundation called Varies was set up in 2003 in Panama, naming Kenyatta's mother, Ngina, 88, as the first benefactor and Kenya's leader as the second benefactor, who would inherit it after her death.

According to reports, Panamanian foundations are much sought after because the true owners of the assets are only known by their lawyers and they do not have to register their names with the Panamanian government.

The assets can also be designed to be transferred tax-free to a successor. There's no reliable estimate of the Kenyatta family's net worth but its vast business interests span transport, insurance, hotels, farming, land ownership and the media industry in Kenya.

In 2018, President Uhuru Kenyatta told the BBC that his family's wealth was known to the public, and as president he had declared his assets as required by law. "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."

"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," he added.

The Pandora Papers investigation by ICIJ also indicates that the secret documents expose offshore dealings of the King of Jordan, the presidents of Ukraine, Kenya and Ecuador, the prime minister of the Czech Republic and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. 

"The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists obtained the trove of more than 11.9 million confidential files and led a team of more than 600 journalists from 150 news outlets that spent two years sifting through them, tracking down hard-to-find sources and digging into court records and other public documents from dozens of countries," ICIJ said.