Koome decries lack of political goodwill to fight illicit cash flows

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Chief Justice Martha Koome (centre) during the regional symposium on TOC and illicit financial flows held in Mombasa on October 3, 2023. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Chief Justice Martha Koome has said lack of resources and political goodwill has hindered the Judiciary’s fight against Transnational Organised Crimes (TOC) and illicit financial flows.

Justice Koome said TOC and illicit financial flows are evolving and adapting new opportunities and technologies that has seen criminals exploit gaps and weaknesses in national and international laws, regulations and cooperation mechanisms.

The CJ said the judiciaries face many challenges fulfilling their roles as guardians of the rule of law. “In addition, in the adjudication of these complex crimes, the judiciaries face many obstacles such as lack of capacity, resources, expertise, cooperation and political will,” said Koome.

She spoke in Mombasa during the regional symposium on TOC and illicit financial flows bringing together judges, magistrates and heads of Judiciary Training Institutes across 21 African states. She pointed out crypto-currencies, anonymous shell companies, and online marketplaces as few avenues harnessed to launder money and finance criminal enterprises.  

The CJ said the illicit financial flows, involving movement of money or assets are often carried out in tandem with crimes such as tax evasion, trade mis-invoicing, bribery, embezzlement, and fraud.

“This speaks to the need for greater collaboration and coordination among our law enforcement agencies and judiciaries in the region given the cross-border nature of these crimes,” said Koome.

She said according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, transnational organised crime generates an estimated 2.7 per cent of the global Gross Domestic Product.

Similarly, Koome said studies by the Global Financial Integrity show illicit financial flows from developing countries amount to approximately $1.1 trillion annually.

She said the illicit profits fuel corruption, undermine governance, erode the rule of law and threaten the stability of states and regions. She said human trafficking, narcotics trade, illegal arms dealing, cybercrime, wildlife poaching, counterfeiting, and the growth of illicit financial flows have cast a shadow over our developmental aspirations.  

Koome said the illicit financial flows deprive governments of much-needed resources for public services, development and poverty reduction apart from facilitating accumulation of wealth and power by criminal networks, and corrupt public officials.

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