GFI commends the Kenyan government and the BRS on its consistent efforts to make BO transparency a reality in Kenya by enacting legislation, regulations and conducting outreach for BO transparency. GFI feels privileged to be invited to submit comments in response to this initiative by the BRS to expand the ambit of BO transparency.
In line with this, GFI submits the comments attached in response to the proposed amendments. We offer these comments to highlight our recommendations for an effective and practicable beneficial ownership framework. We also offer our strong support for and endorse the comments submitted by Open Ownership. As the BRS works to improve the beneficial ownership framework, please consider us partners in that effort.
In addition to our specific comments in response to the proposed amendments, GFI would like the BRS to consider the following areas that are critical to strengthening the BO framework and in line with the revised FATF Recommendation 24:
- Verification: To ensure accuracy of BO information and to comply with FATF Recommendation 24, a provision that provides for a verification mechanism should be provided.
- Direct access for competent authorities: The BRS should consider direct access to BO information for competent authorities and in the course of public procurement.
- Access to financial institutions and DNFBPs: FIs and DNFBPs have an obligation under the Proceeds of Crime and Money Laundering Act to conduct customer due diligence (CDD) for AML/CFT purposes, including the identification of beneficial owners, therefore the BRS should consider measures to facilitate access to BO and control
information by financial institutions and DNFBPs undertaking CDD.
- Cover additional entities under the BO framework: The BRS should require foreign companies holding assets in Kenya to register and record BO information; the BRS should consider an amendment to also require foreign LLPs to collect and submit BO information, and, further amendments are required to include both general partnerships and trusts to collect, submit and disclose BO information.
- International exchange of information: A provision should be added to The Companies (Beneficial Ownership Information) Regulations, 2022, and The Partnerships (Beneficial Ownership Information) Regulations, 2022 to ensure for the timely access to BO information to foreign competent authorities, similar to the provisions for this access to national competent authorities upon written request.