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KRA granted access to Kenyans' secret bank accounts in new law

The new regulations will unearth tax evaders who stash their wealth in secret bank accounts

KRA Acting Commissioner General Rispah Simiyu

New regulations have been approved by Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Prof Njuguna Ndung'u, granting the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) unrestricted access to information on secret bank accounts held by Kenyans in 106 foreign countries.

The regulations will now see all Kenyan financial institutions report information to the KRA on foreigners’ bank account numbers, names, addresses, residences, tax identification numbers, date and place of birth and their beneficiaries.

This information will be shared with the 106 participating countries that have been hide zones for tax evadors such as Switzerland, Panama, Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Mauritius, Jersey, and Monaco.

The act will be reciprocated with the countries offering information on Kenyans holding assets in their territories.

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Where bank accounts are held by companies, information on registered owners of the entities will be reported. Also to be disclosed is the amount of money held in the accounts or value of the accounts and their surrender value, if insured.

KRA will use the information to identify tax deductions where applicable, and for record-keeping. It will also automatically share the information with other tax agencies from participating countries. The new tax regulations are expected to reveal secret assets held by Kenyans abroad.

The new regulations are fruits of talks which Kenya began in 2021 with over 100 countries which were aimed at monitoring suspicious financial activities of foreigners in these countries.

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Complex arrangements that conceal their true ownership have been used by Kenyans to stash billions of shillings in cash and other financial assets in tax havens abroad, either to evade tax scrutiny or to diversify their investment risks.

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