Pandora Papers: Uhuru Kenyatta family's secret assets exposed by leak

Uhuru Kenyatta stated to the BBC in 2018 his desire for transparency and fighting corruption to be his legacy
According to financial documents, the Kenyatta family, which has dominated Kenya's politics since independence in 1991, secretly controlled a network offshore companies for many decades.

The Pandora Papers, 12 million files, is the largest such leakage in history.

The 13 offshore companies were linked to Mr Kenyatta, six of his relatives and him.

They have yet to respond to our requests for comment.

The Kenyattas' offshore investments including stocks and bonds valued at $30m (22m) were found among hundreds of thousands pages of administrative documentation from 14 law firms and service providers in Panama, the British Virgin Islands (BVI), and other tax havens.

An investigation published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Finance Uncovered and Finance Uncovered, Africa Uncensored, earlier Sunday revealed that secret assets had been discovered.

Documents reveal that Varies, a foundation in Panama named after Mr Kenyatta's mother Ngina (88), was established in 2003. It was named Kenya's leader the second benefactor and Ngina as the first.

It is not known what the foundation was for or how much it has been worth.

Panamanian foundations are highly sought-after because the true owners are only known to their lawyers. They don't have to register their names with Panamanian government, ICIJ reports.

You can also design the assets to be tax-free transferred to a successor.

Although it is not possible to estimate the net worth of the Kenyattas, its business interests include transport, insurance and hotels as well as land ownership, media, and farming.

2018: Mr Kenyatta stated to BBC Hardtalk that the wealth of his family was well-known and that he, as president, had declared his assets in accordance with law.

Continue the story

"As I've always stated, what we own, or what we have, is available to the public. "As a public servant, I am supposed to make my wealth visible and declare every year," Mr Kenyatta stated.

He said, "If someone can claim that what we've done or obtained is not legitimate, let them know - we are prepared to face any court."

In the same interview, Mr Kenyatta stated that he wants to leave a legacy of fighting corruption and transparency.

Although he promised to work with parliament, he has yet to get this bill passed by the MPs.

The Pandora Papers also names other world leaders, including the King of Jordan Abdullah II and Tony Blair, the former UK Prime Minister, the King of Jordan, the President of Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba, and Denis Sasou-Nguesso, the President of Congo-Brazzaville.

Although it is not clear if President Kenyatta knew anything about Varies Foundation, his opening date may have been instructive.

He had lost the 2002 presidential election against Mwai-Kibaki seven months prior. The opposition candidate had promised to redress historical wrongs and launch a war on corruption.

According to a 2014 leak by Kroll, the family of Daniel arap Moi (outgoing president), allegedly moved money out the country at the time.

Client 13173

During the reign of Jomo Uhuru, Kenya's first president and Kenya's first female president, the Kenyatta family was able to establish its political and business interests. He was accused of using his position for wealth accumulation.

Ngina Kenyatta was his fourth wife and played an important role in the expansion of his business interests after his death in 1978.

The BBC has seen paperwork revealing that Mrs Kenyatta along with her daughters Kristina (and Anna) set up Milrun International Limited in 1999. This company was then incorporated in the BVI.

The ICIJ reports that Mrs Kenyatta and her daughters were consulted by international wealth experts at the Swiss bank Union Bancaire Prive, which hired Alcogal, a Panamanian law office that specializes in the administration and setting up of offshore companies.

According to the consortium, invoices sent by Alcogal to Alcogal show that the Swiss advisors referred to Kenyattas under the code "client 131773".

Mwai Kibaki, Kenya's former president, and Ngina Kenyatta attend a public event held in 2013.

Alcogal provided Milrun with a registered office on Tortola, the largest BVI island, and staff members to serve as the company's official director.

The end result was completely anonymous and could not be traced back at the Kenyatta clan.

Mrs Kenyatta used this company to purchase an apartment in central London for her and her daughters, which it still owns according to filings at UK Land Registry, Finance Uncovered.

The current value of the prime property, which was rented until recently by Emma Ann Hardy (British Labour MP), is close to $1.3 million.

According to Ms Hardy's spokesperson, the MP had "absolutely zero knowledge" about who owned the property.

She stated that she was shocked by the results of this investigation and believed it showed why more transparency was urgently required.

Finance Uncovered reports that the Kenyatta family used offshore companies to purchase two additional properties in the UK.

$30 million in stocks and bonds

UBP private-wealth advisors also assisted Mr Kenyatta’s brother, Muhoho in setting up a Panamanian entity, the Criselle Foundation, in 2003.

The foundation was registered at the offices of Alcogal, Panama City. It was nominally managed by members of the Panamanian legal firm.

It was established for Muhoho Kenyatta's benefit, with Jomo Kamau Muhoho as his successor.

A third BVI company owned by Mr Muhoho had a $30m value in stocks and bonds at November 2016.

A search of Panama and BVI public records revealed that many of the companies connected to the Kenyattas were now inactive, some as a result not paying regulatory fees.

Although it is legal to operate secret companies, some are used to conceal money, avoid taxes, and to launder money.

However, the Pandora Papers do not show that the Kenyattas stole or concealed state assets through their offshore businesses.

Pandora Papers banner

The Pandora Papers leaks almost 12 million documents and files that expose the secret wealth and dealings world leaders, politicians, and billionaires. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalismists in Washington DC obtained the data and led one of the largest ever global investigations.

Over 600 journalists from 117 different countries investigated the secret fortunes of some the most powerful people in the world. The investigation was led by BBC Panorama and Guardian in the UK.

Pandora Papers coverage: Follow the reaction on Twitter using #PandoraPapers or watch Panorama on BBC iPlayer (UK only)